Free Essay: Is Fast Food the New Tobacco?
Is fast food the new tobacco? This is the question we will try to answer in this essay.
Just like their name suggests, fast foods are foods that are literally prepared and then eaten within a few minutes. The notion of the ready-made food is to have a food that one can serve with ease. This is the main reason why these foods are a popular preference for many people across the world. People do not mind the dietary implications that these foods have on them and this has led to the adoption of a culture of eating on the spot. This cuts the duration that is spent preparing foods.
Therefore, criticizing this lifestyle makes a person a villain regardless of the existing evidence that suggests that this is a harmful lifestyle to human health. The ensuing debate on whether fast foods should be demonized is similar to tobacco’s debate. The question that needs an answer is whether fast foods will now be the new tobacco. This relates to the way the public and the government will handle the volatile debate on fast foods as well as the perceptions of the stakeholders.
Smoking tobacco is an existing habit that has been there for a long time than consumption of fast foods. However, the two can be seen as equal because they are seen and handled by the government and the public. A paper on health and smoking entitled; Key Dates in the History of Anti-tobacco Campaigning, the medical study related smoking tobacco to lung cancer directly in 1930s.
This is a representation of the point where war against tobacco smoking gained momentum because tobacco was presented as harmful in the medical perspective. This stance had a better impact on the society than the strategy that positioned it before by representing the smoker as having dubious morals. However, fast foods have not been brought to the spotlight for quite a while although their momentum is slowly picking with people being urged to abandon the culture of consuming fast foods.
Over the recent past, the focus of research has been on fast foods, their impact on human health and dietary values. This has been the priority of nutritionists and medical field practitioners. A growing concern has been the rampant rate of various conditions including obesity and gaining excess weight among the contemporary populations. Researchers propose that these conditions are proliferated by fast foods’ dependency among the populations (Currie et al. 34).
This depicts fast foods as being harmful to health and the perception is gaining momentum. Currently, this issue is being debated on by many people on whether to treat fast foods the way they treat drugs because they can also hurt healthy survival of the population.
Effects of Fast Foods
My conviction is that fast foods’ debate will not die or simmer soon. Instead, this debate will continue to grow and soon it will be a political issue causing great applaud and uproar. The major reason for my stance is that there is an ever-increasing influence by the medical field. According to Swinburn et al, in their article entitled; Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Excess Weight Gain and Obesity, inappropriate diets and inactive lifestyles some of the obesity’s risk factors. Fast foods as well as adverse socioeconomic conditions are among the aspects of inappropriate diets. (Swinburn et al.123).
The argument of the paper is that obesity is common in the populations whose characteristics include mechanization and urbanization (Swinburn et al. 124). Such characteristics of a population tend to make the population to have diets that are high in sugars and fat as well as sedentary lifestyle.
Populations have been affected by these factors with diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and obesity being prevalent. Therefore, urban settings have these diseases as the main causes of high mortality rates which overtake nutrient deficiency and infectious diseases which traditionally have been the main life expectancy indicators (Swinburn et al. 124).
Therefore, fast foods culture is evidently the main cause of mortality and morbidity. Diabetes II and obesity prevalence has increased over the past years due to high dependency level of fast foods. Working out the body mass index (BMI) of a person is the medical method that is used to calculate whether a person is obese.
A person can be overweight or obese depending on their BMI level. Eating fast foods is usually associated with the populations that gain weight after which they attain high BMI levels. Among the medical conditions that are associated with high BMI levels include LDL cholesterol, high total cholesterol, high blood pressure, hypertension, triglyceride levels and low level of HDL cholesterol.
Gaining weight and obesity are some of the risk factors of stroke and coronary heart disease (Swinburn et al. 125). According to Swinburn et al., obesity is a global epidemic which is increasing at a fast rate. The aim of the article is to identify potential food and nutrition drivers in a bid to determine appropriate intervention strategies. In addition to deleterious medical cases that are related to fast foods, another article by DeVoe and Zhong entitled; You Are How You Eat: Fast Food and Impatience examines the impact of fast foods on the choices and behavior of individuals.
According to these authors, consumption of fast foods can cause an impatient choices and behaviors in a person beyond their feeding domain. As they established in their study, this response occurs not just when one is exposed to fast foods by also when one is unconsciously exposed to the symbols of fast foods.
Mere exposure to the symbols of fast food was found to affect a person’s decisions on issues that relate to saving. The authors noted that exposure to these foods automatically makes a person to have a time saving habit (DeVoe and Zhong 3). This is the reason why these foods are very popular due to their ability to enable individuals to save time. Fast foods have inculcated immediate gratification and time efficiency culture among the people. Perhaps, this explains why the time saving culture has been inducted in people who are exposed to the symbols of fast foods (DeVoe and Zhong 4).
Despite the fact that time saving appears to be a positive characteristic, when viewed from an entire perspective it is not a desirable traits. In the work environments, time saving is a valuable characteristic where wasting time translates to low productivity. In such a case, time consciousness is a culture that can be readily accepted because it promotes productivity. Contrary to this, there are cases where time consciousness is not necessary. For instance, the paper illustrated a case where one is fastening their pace while strolling in a park just because of the culture of time consciousness.
This would appear weird or unnatural and an example of impatience caused by fast foods exposure (DeVoe and Zhong 4). Apart from creating the unnecessary haste culture, fast foods have also led to the establishment of a society that treasures instant gratification contrary to the future values (DeVoe and Zhong 9). Despite being an uncommon topic for discussion, fast foods are a representation of the oppression of some groups in the population.
For instance, in America as expressed by Freeman in the article entitled; Fast Food: Oppression through Poor Nutrition, the people in the inner city do not enjoy their right to a healthy diet because the government has not established policies for limiting the fast foods industry. Over-dependence on fast foods among these populations exposes them to higher risks of developing health-related diseases.
The belief of Freeman is that the people living in the inner city are at a higher risk of developing health-related diseases because their class and race comprise of food oppression. Regardless of the continued awareness campaigns that are done to enlighten people on the harmful effects that fast foods have on their health, the information is not absorbed in the inner city.
Additionally, the government is not making attempts to regulate the fast foods industry. When combined, these conditions increase fast foods consumption among the Latinos and African Americans. They consume fast foods because they find the affordable or lack of awareness of their side effects on their health. (Freeman 2221).
According to this article, food oppression is structural oppression because it is not caused by individualistic actions. Instead, it is caused by structural systems including policies and practices in the industry that produces fast foods. Freeman gives an example that indicates the discriminatory policies of the government where it allocates inadequate resources to assist the public. Therefore, limited assistance cannot allow dependents to purchase fresh and healthy diets. This promotes fast foods even among those aware of their side effects (2222).
The intention of Freeman is to indicate that the existence of a free-market society as the government perpetuate is false as it continues to support the fast foods industry. When the government allows fast foods to cost low prices than organic foods, it leaves the poor with no choice other than consuming fast foods that are harmful to their health (2258).
In addition to these side effects that these foods have, they are also a liability to the economy in America. This is according to the article: The Harsh Price Americans Pay for Fast Food Jobs by Olson. He notes that over a half of the individuals in the industry rely on aid from the government that is almost double to that the entire working population gets.
This is due to the fact that the companies in the fast foods industry pay little wages to the employees such that even after working for 40 hours they still need aid from the government. As though this was not enough, just a small number of employees in the industry are able to work for 40 hours per week.
According Olson, a worker in the industry gets an average hourly pay that is less than that of the other American workers. Thus, they need government aids constantly. Additionally, most of the companies in the fast food industry deny workers their healthcare benefits. Considering their working conditions, other taxpayers in America must provide the money required to provide government aids to these workers.
The above mentioned arguments are not necessarily a representation of all disadvantages that the fast foods have. However, they represent some pertinent issues raised by the ensuing debates on the fast foods. Despite having slight advantages over the organic foods, fast foods have effects on human health that requires one to rethink over reliance on them or making them the dietary source (Jekanowski et al. 58). Just like it was stated earlier, these foods will become new tobacco in the society considering the similarities of the reactions that they both cause.
Cigarettes and fast foods are produced to provide comfort to the users and to fulfill a satisfaction desire among the people. Both have short term satisfaction in most cases but they have negative medical effects in the long run. With the side effects that fast foods have on an individual’s health, people have constantly changing perceptions about them. It is no doubt that this debate eventually will turn political requiring measures to be taken to reduce their consumption by the global population.
Currie, et al. “The Effect of fast food Restaurants on Obesity and Weight Gain.” American
Economic Journal: Economic Policy 2. 3. 2010: 32-63
Freeman, Andrea. “Fast Food: Oppression Through Poor Nutrition.” California Law Review
- 6. 2007: 2221-2260.
Jekanowski, et al. “Convinience, Accessibility and the Demand for Fast Food.” Journal of
Agricultural and Resource Economics 26. 1.2001: 58-74
Key Dates in The History of Anti-Tobacco Campaigning. Action on Smoking and Health. Web. 4 Dec. 2013. <www.tobacco.org/History/history.html>
Olson, Elizabeth. The Harsh Price Americans Pay for Fast Food Jobs. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.
Swinburn, et al. “Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Excess Weight Gain and Obesity.”
Public Health Nutrition 7. 1A. 2004: 123-146
Zhong, Chen-Bo and DeVoe, Sanford E. “You are How You Eat: Fast Food and Impatience.”
Psychological Science: 1-14