Urban areas are filled with advertisements about fast food restaurants available in the area. These advertisements are found in television programs and newspapers, displaying eating fast food as a fun activity and inviting all people irrespective of age to come and enjoy. However, fast food is not beneficial for the human body since it contains high amounts of calories and has low nutritional values (Aldana 2).
Consumption of fast food has been linked to obesity in children. The imbalance in nutrition and diet has led to an increase in non-communicable lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer. The rate of malnutrition leading to obesity among children has gone up (Zhao et al. 2). On the other hand, this rate is lower among children who do not live in cities and towns. Moreover, the advertisement of fast foods has been associated with negative consequences. For instance, fast food advertisements encourage children to overeat. In most cases, children in urban areas eat large amounts of snacks with a high amount of carbohydrates (Al-Saad 279).
This phenomenon has led to the introduction of the Sidney principles to be adopted as law in different countries of the world. These principles provide guidelines that aim at changing food and beverage advertisement to children, arguing that these measures support children rights since they preserve their right to life and the “right to be children” free of lifestyle diseases (Swinburn 888). In support of this argument, a study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) shows that ban of fast foods advertising would cut the rate of obesity among children by around 18% (Alkharfy 567).
Effects of Fast Food and Global Economy
The consumption of fast foods has both negative and positive impacts on the human body. As a result of the globalization of the economy in many countries, fast foods have found their way into every part of the world. For this reason, the challenges and the benefits are felt worldwide.
On the positive side, fast foods have led to the growth of the economy in many countries. For instance, the fast-food industry offers employment to millions of citizens in the current economic times when unemployment is prevalent (Baker et al. 2). In return, the industries employ millions of workers, giving them a means of livelihood. Similarly, the industries provide a source of income to farmers in the countryside from whom they buy raw foods for processing. These industries pay taxes to governments, thus contributing to economic development in the country (Baker et al. 3).
Moreover, some fast food companies, for instance, McDonald’s, have thrived in their countries of origin and expanded to other countries, hence help these countries in building their economies. The widespread of fast food has created economic opportunities for restaurants and chefs that specialize in preparing traditional foods (Lang and Heasman 9). Given that these foods are getting scarce with time, the restaurants that have stuck to cultural menus have a large booming business to serve the people that still hold onto their traditions. In urban areas, such dishes cost a lot of money, which is caused by the shift in demand and supply forces that have taken place since people switched to fast foods. As such, these food joints enjoy huge profits margins (Lang and Heasman 12).
Fast Food and Health
However, despite all the benefits the economy enjoys, the high rate of consumption is slowly destroying the community. Fast food is associated with the prevailing rates of fatal diseases, such as cancer. For instance, fast food contains chemicals unfit for human consumption and high levels of sodium which are added to the food during the process to improve on taste and for preservation purpose (Al-Saad 279). Besides, the consumption of large amounts of junk food leads to poor health and life-threatening conditions, such as obesity. Consequentially, the government and individuals are spending a lot of money to manage these illnesses, money that could be used to build the economy. Most of the lifestyle diseases result in death or incapacitation of able workers who could have contributed to the productivity of a nation (Al-Saad 280).
There is a dire need for changing the current circumstances because of excessive consumption of fats foods. However, the solution should be a sustainable to avoid an economic crisis worldwide. Subsequently, the industry needs to adopt practices that do not cause harm to human beings.
To avoid the diseases associated with fast foods, people need to embrace a proper eating culture. Bittman suggests that people should turn from eating fast foods to become flexitarians (para 5). These are the people who take diets that have higher ratios of plant products in comparison to animal and processed products. Unlike fast foods, such foods take time to cook and are made up of fresh ingredients (Bittman para 5). Adoption of such diets will aid in the reduction of obesity.
Moreover, the adoption of flexitarianism into the industry will bring about the desired change and protect millions of jobs. Fast food companies can turn to the production of exotic traditional cuisines that are healthy to consume.
Besides, the government can come in to control the rate of consumption of these foods by introducing laws, such as the Sydney Principles, to protect the young generations. Similarly, it can introduce industrial regulations to do away with the excessive use of chemicals in the processing of food. To ensure maximum adherence to these regulations, companies that break them should be banned from operating in the country by having their licenses revoked.
At the production level, farmers in the third world countries should be given guidelines to ensure that they use limited amounts of synthetic chemicals. Globally, the use of Genetically Modified Organisms for human consumption should be outlawed entirely. Instead, traditional crops with a minimal human contribution in their evolution process should be grown for food since such crops do not bring diseases to the human body.
Similarly, through government funding, nutrition experts should form campaigns that enlighten people on the importance of eating healthy foods. Moreover, communities can organize groups that encourage the preservation of their food culture. In conclusion, the responsibility of reversing the effects of fast foods belongs to all people, at a personal level, and the government level.
Aldana, Steve G. Fast Food Nutrition Guide. Maple Mountain Studio, 2017.
Alkharfy, Khalid M,²Food Advertisment: To Ban or Not to Ban?² Annals of Saudi Medicine, vol. 31, no. 6, 2011, pp. 567-568.
Al-Saad, E. ²Causes and Effects of Fast Foods².International Journal of Scientific and Technological Research, vol. 5, no. 04, 2016, pp. 279-280.
Baker, Phillip, et al. “Ultra‐Processed Foods and the Nutrition Transition: Global, Regional and National Trends, Food Systems Transformations and Political Economy Drivers.” Obesity Reviews, vol. 1, no. 1, 2020, pp. 1-20.
Bittman, Mark. “Healthy, Meet Delicious.” New York Times, 23 Apr. 2013, www.nytimes.com/2013/04/24/dining/healthy-meet-delicious.html.
Lang, Tim, and Michael Heasman. Food Wars: The Global Battle for Mouths, Minds and Markets. Routledge, 2015.
Swinburn, Boyd, et al. “Sydney Principles’ for Reducing the Commercial Promotion of Foods and Beverages to Children.” Public Health Nutrition, vol. 11, no. 9, 2008, pp. 881-886.
Zhao, Yaling, et al. “Fast Food Consumption and its Associations with Obesity and Hypertension among Children: Results from the Baseline Data of the Childhood Obesity Study in China Mega-Cities.” BMC Public Health, vol. 17, no. 1, 2017, pp. 1-10.