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Fast Food America

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Fast food has become a major phenomenon here in America. According to Eric Schlosser, he writes in the New York Times, on average $301,369,863 is spent a day on fast food. As Schlosser shows, American people are abusing fast food. In accordance with fast food binging, obesity has become a widespread epidemic.

According to Joseph Mercola M.D., on a personal website states obesity is, "A chronic condition that develops as a result of an interaction between a person's genetic makeup and their environment." Here Dr. Mercola expresses how obesity is directly related to an individual's environment. Today it is not uncommon to find major fast food chains with in a short distance from residential areas. With so many choices for fast food, Americans turn to the fast food as an alternative to the healthy home cooked meal.

The reason for so many Americans eating out is simply because they are in a hurry or unable to cook and just want something fast and easy. A majority of these people get into the habit of constantly eating at these fast food chains. According to Morgan Spurlock, in his documentary Super Size Me, he quotes Elliot Bloom, a young marketing wiz for Taco Bell, "The fast food chains were sustained by a large group of diners who ate out more than twenty times a month. A big chunk of this group, about 30% of customers, were considered to be "heavy users" and accountable for bringing in a whopping 70% of total revenue." These numbers show how important fast food has become to Americans daily eating habits, and further demonstrates the connection between fast food eating and the increases in obesity.

Accordingly, excessive amounts of fast food can be very damaging to ones body, and there is proof to back up this claim. Director Morgan Spurlock, set out to document a strictly fast food diet, "I am trying to prove, fast food makes someone fat." Spurlock closely documented his thirty-day McDonalds binge, eating only foods and beverages served at the one of the many "Golden Arches." Over the thirty-days, he underwent some amazing conditions that even the doctors and health care professionals could not have predicted. Besides the usual changes which included skyrocketing cholesterol and a major increase in body fat, his liver was showing signs similar to that of a smoker. Though the symptoms that Spurlock experienced were on a very drastic scale, this is what is slowly damaging many Americans who are unable to control their fast food cravings.

Research has shown the severity of obesity since the late 1980's, and the studies show the common health problems related with obesity are Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and Osteoarthritis. However, little is known publicly about the dangers of obesity, and the future repercussions if obesity. According to Nanci Hellmich, writing in the USA Today, she states that, "Overall, employers and privately insured families spent approximately $36.5 billion on obesity-linked illnesses in 2002, up from an inflation-adjusted $3.6 billion in 1987." Hellmich's statistics show a tenfold increase in obesity spending over a span of fifteen years. If obesity continues to increase at this rate, in the future obesity may become the deadliest disease in America. Hellmich goes on to say, "On average, treating an obese person cost $1,244 more in 2002 than treating a healthy-weight person did. In 1987, the gap was $272." As Hellmich shows in her quote, there exist a connection between obesity and increasing health care cost. Since the majority of Americans pay for health care, the epidemic spreads beyond those affected directly, and raises prices for the healthy Americans too.

Hellmich shows there is a cause for concern, simply because obesity has predominately increased over the past two decades. The problem starts with the media which influences Americans eating habits on a daily basis. Today Americans have numerous choices in fast food as compared to five to ten years ago. As well as more commercials there exists the convenience of eating fast food. Within minutes, fast food is ready to serve at most fast food restaurants, and for relatively cheap. Besides the fact food preparation is fast, every year thousands of commercials can be seen on TV. According to Spurlock, on average a single person watches about 10,000 different commercials per year, most of them being junk or fast food products. These influential commercials broadcast smart slogans and offer cheap food to attract customers. In a recent survey, at the Brea Mall Food Court, when asked if they ate on a daily basis, 28 % of males said yes, while 25% of women said they too ate out daily. A surprising portion of people, 30% said they enjoyed the taste and quality, while majority about 46% said there was no time to cook at home because of work or hectic schedules. With so many great food specials and a plethora of commercials, its no wonder Americans turn to fast food for meals. Fast food is practical, quick, and reasonably cheap, though unhealthy many seem to no care.

The first signs of concern came in 2003 when legislation was passed by Congress to help to slow obesity among children. The new law banned all junk foods from public schools and enforced new cafeteria food requirements. Robert Colin Carter a medical researcher from the John Hopkins School of Medicine showed that the meals served prior to changes by school cafeteria's exceeded the newly



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