The prevalence rate of obesity has swiftly increased in America since the mid-1980s. Similarly, the number of restaurants selling fast food has tripled in the last 30 years. It is apparent that the increased availability of places that sell fast-food in America is the determinant of the increase in obesity rates. A close location of fast-food chains to schools influences the obesity rates of 3.5 million schoolchildren and the weight gain of over 2 million pregnant women.
Policymakers in some of the states in the US have decided to curb this issue through the following ways: restricting the content or the availability of fast foods in the restaurants, calorie labeling and value sizing of the meals offered at fast-food restaurants, and finally, prevention of new fast-food restaurants from opening. As such, this paper seeks to identify the effects of increases in the availability of fast food on obesity rates and possible solutions to protect people’s health.
Restricting the Content or the Availability of Fast Foods in the Restaurants
Consumption of foods offered at fast-food restaurants means eating less healthy foods. Fast food restaurants in America make people think that the reason they are consuming so much of their products is that they are providing what they demand, as such, they have increased their outlets with the intention of creating a world where fast food is cheapest, easiest and the most available choice (Koplan and Dietz 1581). Unhealthy food consumption is influenced by personal food preference, income, food prices, food availability, and other social factors (Kumanyika et al. 425). However, to promote a healthy food consumption and to prevent obesity, several food-related policies have been proposed to aid in decreasing the availability, acceptability, and affordability of fast food that cause obesity in various settings such as workplace, schools, and homes (Koplan and Dietz 1580). Additionally, the policies regulate the content of fast foods in restaurants to improve the obesity rate.
Calorie Labeling and Value Sizing Of the Meals Offered At Fast Food Restaurants
There has been an increase in weight among pregnant women in America, and this has been noted to be because of the meals offered at fast-food restaurants. The increase in weight implies that there has been increased caloric ingestion of 1 to 4 calories daily in the body. Furthermore, increases in the number of fast-food restaurants have a major effect on obesity and weight gain in pregnant women (Nestle and Jacobson 12). Calorie labeling may play a significant role in preventing people from choosing unhealthy foods. Policymakers should be pushing for legislation, requiring nutritional labeling on fast foods in fast-food restaurants to help consumers determine the unhealthy foods. The labeling is believed to influence people’s food choices and as such, improve the intake of unhealthy foods that cause obesity (Kumanyika et al. 425).
The US should adopt the front-of-pack labels in which red, yellow and green labels keep up a correspondence to a high, medium, and low percentage of fat, salt, total energy and sugar in the food products. The color-coding makes visible the message that consumers need to be aware of before buying food products. Additionally, the back-of-pack labeling, in which the side of the package is labeled but red indicate high levels of sugar, fat and energy level. This labeling should also be implemented to help consumers make more beneficial choices for their health within the short time frame that they need to typically make purchase decisions in fast food restaurants (Sallis and Karen 130).
Preventing New Fast Food Restaurants from Opening
The recent increase of fast-food restaurants in America shows that other new fast-food restaurants are likely to open to curb the expected high demand for fast foods from consumers. The higher demand for fast food is connected with high risks of obesity, and the presence of unobserved determinants of obesity is due to the increase in the number of fast-food selling places (Nestle and Jacobson 12). In America, many people are obese, and this is because fast-food restaurants are distributed equally in different geographical locations. This opposes the need for new fast-food restaurants establishments.
National Public Nutrition Education is essential to help implement behavioral health changes and to promote healthy diets, especially that aim at preventing obesity (Sallis and Karen 140). The government should develop dietary guidelines to help increase public awareness of nutritional needs and assist in nutritional education in a different setting and at multiple levels. This will prevent people from visiting fast-food restaurants, and as such, new fast-food restaurants cannot be established due to low demand. Policymakers should also prevent the opening of new fast-food restaurants to secure people’s health.
The availability of many fast-food restaurants in America has caused an increase in obesity in many individuals, over recent years. Obesity has been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and hypertension, and as such, it has become a serious public concern. The supply of fast foods and the incidence of obesity is based on correlations and as such, nutritional policymakers ought to make strategies that can help curb the issue. Most fast foods restaurants are opened in areas where the demand for fast foods is strong, and as such, consumers have easy access to the unhealthy foods from many sources, making obesity rate to increase, however, possible solutions have been put in place to curb the problem.
Koplan, Jeffrey P., and William H. Dietz. “Caloric Imbalance and Public Health Policy.” JAMA, vol.282, no.16, 2017, pp. 1579-1581.
Kumanyika, S., et al. “Obesity Prevention: Case for action.” International Journal of Obesity, vol.26, no.3, 2002, p. 425.
Nestle, Marion, and Michael F. Jacobson. “Obesity Epidemic: A Public Health Policy Approach.” Public Health Reports, vol.115, no.1, 2017, p. 12.
Sallis, James F., and Karen Glanz. “Solutions to the Obesity Epidemic.” Milbank Quarterly, vol.87, no.1, 2016, pp. 123-154.