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With more progression toward modernization, people in America are working hard and tireless hours. Due to little or no time to cook healthy, home meals, Americans are using fast food restaurants as an alternate way to fulfill their hunger on the go without having to waste their time cooking at home. The fast food industry is expanding and now they are found to exist in airports, stadiums, near schools and colleges, in train stations, and in hospitals. They are also found worldwide and in populated areas and nearby tourist attractions. Over the years, more and more Americans are going to fast food restaurants without acknowledging the fact that they are at risk of health problems. Since people are not convinced about the horrors of these fast food restaurants, movies and even novels have been written on this topic to depict and uncover the dark mysteries of fast food restaurants. Authors and even directors such as Morgan Spurlock's Supersize Me, Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, Diane Martindale's Burgers on the Brain, Shannon Brownlee's Portion Distortion You Don't Know the Half of It and other stories try to bring the realities and the dangers of eating at fast food restaurants. Fast food restaurants promote "healthy" campaigns in order to attract customers, but at the end these fast food restaurants only contribute to the rise of many health issues among the American population.
Many "healthy" fast food campaigns have unfolded the truth and reality of the missions of fast food restaurants. From major fast food franchises to small franchises, advertisements and commercials have been made which express the motivation of these restaurants to mainly attract the attention of their consumers and show that the quality of their food is good. In "The Ten Worst fast-food ad campaigns," Teague Bohlen states that the leading franchise, McDonald's uses wide range of commercials, one such as "MacTonight!," which depicts a cartoon character in order to influence the kids, but it fails to mention the healthiness of the food. Cartoon characters in McDonald's commercial have displayed, especially the clown, to express that McDonald's is a place where family can unify and have fun. Also the "Happy Meal" commercials, which display kids, have been made to attract the minds of young children in order to force their parents to take them to McDonald's. Also the toys that are given with happy meals clearly show that McDonald's wants to show that they care about the children and their happiness, but they really don't have any concerns for their health. Also Wendy's commercial, "Red Pigtails," Teague Bohlen demonstrates that Wendy's sell fresh and juicy hamburgers. However in the past, many fast food restaurants have made false claims, by stating that their food is fresh, but it really was frozen. He also exposes that KFC used "Kitchen Fresh Chicken" in their advertisements in order to show that their food was healthy, but most of the food was made from deep fryers. In Burger King's commercial "Whopper Virgins," foreign people are chosen to take the blind taste test and all of them choose the Whopper Virgins, but none of them realize what they are putting into their bodies. The size of these hamburgers show that these hamburgers contain load of ingredients and calories, which are untold to the public. Even Subway uses their slogan, "Eat Fresh," but Teague expresses that with media's exposure, their vegetables have been reported of containing E.Coli.
Fast food restaurants have used sexy ads of young women in order to attract consumers and thus used it as a key step in making profits and increasing their sales. In the article, "Fast Food Chains Steam Up Ads," John Berman and his fellow journalists express that fast food franchises are using ads that are very racy in order to attract young men, who have been found to be the group, which most often visit fast food restaurants. In their example, they state Carl's Jr. and Hardee's promotion of "Hot Chicks Eating Burgers," is one of many which display a young girl, who is having pleasure in eating a hamburger. From the same article, Dan Isett, Parent Television Council public policy director states that "it seems an entire industry is set on trying to push every bound of sexual innuendo in order to sell something like a hamburger." However Burger King replies to these statements by expressing that "their ad did not run in the U.S. or any other markets...and generated positive consumer sales." Some of these ads include celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Audrina Patride and other sexy models, but at the end, these fast food restaurants are producing huge profits.
Fast food restaurants are mainly concerned about money and improving their sales instead of their food. In Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser, a modern muckraker goes behind the fast food restaurants to the suppliers, meatpacking industries and the influence of fast food industry on the lives and simply the life style of the American people. Through his experience, Eric Schlosser expresses that Ronald McDonald used the clown and other cartoon characters as well as expanded the restaurants with the addition of playlands for children. He also exposes that the center of the attention for these franchises are children, who are targeted as the fast food restaurants' marketing strategies. These franchises have learned that children are the key to bringing the families to their restaurants. He explains that by targeting children, parents are forced by their children to come to these restaurants and become lifelong customers. Eric Schlosser also states that McDonald's has gone to enlist itself as a "Trusted Friend," expressing that it cares about the goodness of its customers, but in reality more about how much these customers spend. Eric Schlosser depicts that fast food companies are sponsoring public schools and paying public schools to advertise their products and expand their business. In "Portion Distortion -- You Don't Know the Half of It", Shannon Brownlee expresses that Taco Bell franchise used the "smart research" to find the group of people, who visited their restaurants most often. Through their study, mostly single males were found to eat more than 20 times a month in these restaurants and they were labeled as "heavy users," who had no interest in cooking at home, failed to care about the quality of the food they ate, and surprisingly they didn't care about the taste, but they simply wanted the food to be "fast and cheap". Since Taco Bell knew these young males were the center of their sales and in order to make more profits and sales, Taco Bell increased their food production, but reduced the prices of their main menu to "forty-nine, fifty-nice and sixty-nine cents." Since Taco Bell had discovered the secret to attracting these men to the doors of their restaurants, they reduced the prices below their competitors in order to attract other men and customers. Also cheap food on the menu only stimulated the growth of customers to overeat and spend more. Shannon Brownlee also expresses that Taco Bell sales arose as much as "12 percent in one year." Due to the outbreak of such profits and increase in sales, other fast food franchises soon learned about Taco Bell's method and it forced them also to cut prices in order to increase their customers. However the trend to increase and gain more customers didn't stop, because in 1972, McDonald's introduced the method of "super-sizing" all of their foods on the menu. Due to the intense competition among the fast food franchises, by 1988, McDonald's had brought the idea of super-sized sodas and fries. With time, competition and the drive to be successful was more on the minds of these fast food franchises rather than taking the responsibility to serve better food and improve their customers' health conditions.
The employees that worked in the fast food restaurants work for minimum wage and sacrifice their time for education in order to make money. Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation expresses that high school students and adolescents are the major working force of these franchises. Due to the system of assembly line, fast food franchises don't expect their employees to be skilled or intelligent. Eric Schlosser explains that everything to make a sandwich requires machines rather than full manual labor. The fast food franchises view everyone with potential to work, but however in another way, these same franchises fail to think highly or even in some case, respect their own employees. By stating that their "employees are not expected to be skilled" is an insult to the employees, who are basically thought as unintelligent. Eric Schlosser also expresses that "one-sixth of the employees working in the fast food restaurants [spoke] English as a second language." These realities express that employees are disabled to improve their lives, because working in these fast food restaurants have trapped them into thinking about a easy way of making low salary and surviving. Fast food restaurants are all about the money, because according to Eric Schlosser' data, fast food restaurants hire the highest rate of low wage workers, but these restaurants executives' salaries are on the rise. Fast food restaurants are disabling high school students by giving them opportunities to work twelve hours or more after school and on weekends. Teachers and school officials are worried about the performance of these students and they think that these students should not be sacrificing their education time in working such hours just to buy personal clothing and other accessories. Instead of fast food restaurants taking action to prevent these students from working so many hours and teaching them about the importance of education, they are hiring more part-time students.
The horrible conditions in the meatpacking industries contribute to disabilities as well as unsafe conditions of some of the meat that is supplied to the fast food industries. Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation exposes that E.Coli has been a problem for the meat packing industry in the past. He states that American cattle may have been infected with E. Coli in the past, but Eric states due to "the recent changes in how cattle are raised, slaughtered, and processed have created an ideal means for the pathogens to spread"(Schlosser 200), which is due to the lack of effort and carelessness of the workers in the industry. The cattle that are slaughtered are of the poorest conditions, because they get no exercise and live in areas full of manure. He also express that since "you [don't] eat dirty food [or] dirty water, [then why] we still think we can give animals dirty food and dirty water"(Schlosser 200) depict that meat packing industries want to save money and using any means to ensure that these animals survive until they are ready to be shredded. Due to the filthiness of the areas that cattle live in clearly show that such conditions contribute to the spread many diseases. Eric Schlosser explains that the major cause of these cattle's poor health conditions are due to the fact they are fed cheap food, other animal's wastes and even remains of dead animals such as: sheep and cattle. Eric Schlosser also states that these cattle are fed dead cats and dogs, but these methods have been prohibited by the FDA after they found out about the outbreak of BSE or "mad cow disease"(Schlosser 200). Regulations by FDA show that poultry is allowed to be fed dead cattle, but cattle are banned from being fed dead pigs, sheep or horses. Also other reporters have stated that these animals are made to eat grass and not dead animals due to their stomach, which was made to eat high diets consisting of cellulose. Due to the inefficiency of the cattle's stomach to break down the content of dead animals that they were fed have lead to the rise of many bacteria and illnesses. Eric Schlosser states, "The waste products from poultry plants, including the sawdust and old newspapers used as litter, are also being fed to cattle. A study published a few years ago in Preventive Medicine notes that in Arkansas alone, about 3 million pounds of chicken manure were fed to cattle in 1994. According to Dr. Neal D. Bernard, who heads the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, chicken manure may contain dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter, parasites such as tapeworms and Giardia lamblia, antibiotic residues, arsenic, and heavy metals"(Schlosser 200), which all contribute to the production of foods produced in the fast food restaurants, which contribute to untold health risks. Not only the cattle are found to spread the dangerous pathogens, but slaughterhouses and hamburgers grinders are the other locations of these bacteria. Due to the mess in the slaughterhouses, digestive organs and fluids of the slaughtered cattle are spilled on the meat, making the meat unhealthy and open to dangerous bacteria. Eric Schlosser's interview with a slaughterhouse engineer exposes that new safety equipments made are safe and effective, but the engineer is "concerned about the nuclear technology that is being placed in the slaughterhouses with a largely illiterate, non-English speaking workforce"(Schlosser 217), who can worsen the problems due to their failure to handle such machines. Directly the engineer states, "these are not the type of people you want working on that level of equipment"(Schlosser 217), which is true, because if the employees who regulate these machines fail to use them properly can cause to spread serious health problems. If the meat packing industries fail to transport safe and healthy meat, then already there is a problem and with the ingredients that fast food restaurants use in the production of the foods on the menu adds another layer of problems on the previous issues and problems only lead to other problems.
Many people who have ate from fast food restaurants have faced serious health illnesses. In Dateline NBC, 2005, Jack Cloherty exposed the unsafe conditions in the fast food restaurants in his episode, "Dirty Dining?" Even though "most of the [consumers] just assume [that the food is] all clean and safe," but it's not always the case. One of the reports show that one hundred people became sick after eating from the same McDonald's. Jack Cloherty reports that these customers "ended up in the hospital, dehydrated and even [hallucinated]." However the restaurants fails to acknowledge any such cases. Another report shows that a boy named Gianni Velotta was infected with a dangerous form of salmonella bacteria and his mother states that "he almost died." She also explains that her son's kidney failed to function and she had not learned about the health inspection, which fined KFC for violating many health codes. The mother also replied that "If I would have known that they had several health violations, I would not have eaten there." The problems just rise and continue to progress as other reports state that all over America, there have been reports of dead rodent decomposing on a rat trap, chewing gum in a taco, worm in a Wendy's salad, blood dripping on a cup of soda. Reports also mention that many employees don't wash their hands, restaurants contain dirty preparation counters, restaurants fail to have certified food handlers, food is preserved at improper temperatures, there is the presence of insects and presence of no soap in the sink and employees are handling food with their bare hands. There has been replies from the fast food chains, but McDonald's states that "No one cares more about operating clean, safe restaurants than McDonald's,'' which is one hundred percent false. All of these fast food chains are trying to blame the other instead of accepting their actions and the poor quality of their services and restaurants' atmosphere.
The fast food restaurants consist of menus, which show that their foods are not organic or fresh and high in fats, sugar and calories. According to Aldo Bonincontro in his article "Fast Food Restaurants serving the unhealthiest food," he expresses that the meat that is supplied to the fast food restaurants is from animals, who were given growth hormones and other drugs to accelerate their growth rate and be temporarily immune to diseases. The oil used for frying fries or even meat is excessively used over and over again, making the oil harmful and no longer beneficial or healthy to the body. In "4 Shocking Secrets About Fast Foods," David Zinczenko claims that they discovered in "Eat This, Not That!Â and newÂ Cook This, Not That!"Â series that a meal wasn't just made from one ingredient, but rather more than 20 or even more ingredients. In his example of the Chicken McNugget, he expresses that the bread and chicken aren't the only ingredients to the production of this meal, but ingredients that consumers have no knowledge about and in many cases the consumers have never heard of. He states the "meat" in McNugget consist of industrial chemicals and artificial flavors. He also states fast foods are less produced in kitchens, but "designed and perfected in labs" as the years have progressed. Eric Schlosser in his Fast Food Nation, expresses that with time people are consuming more calories, less fiber and bad fats. He has stated that fast food chains are increasing the size of their meals, which is doubling or even tripling the amount of calories that should be consumed daily. A full meal at any fast food restaurant have shown to cover a day's three combined meals. Eric Schlosser states that after 1972, the super sized fries contained 610 calories alone and 29 grams of fat, which was full of saturated fats, which have known to contribute to heart problems. Also the sodas and fountain drinks are found to be high in sugar, especially corn fructose syrup and artificial sugar, which directly contributes to storage of fat.
With the ingredients that are used in producing meals, fast food restaurants have been found to be the source to the rise of health problems, especially obesity. Due to the consumption of fried potatoes in the overcooked oil full of saturated fats, damage to the liver and weight gain are the result of such methods. In "Eating at Fast-food Restaurants More than Twice Per Week is Associated with More Weight Gain and Insulin Resistance in Otherwise Healthy Young Adults," Â Mark Pereira and his fellow peers state that excessive visits to fast food restaurants have demonstrated that consumers gain weight and have greater increase in insulin resistance. Studies by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) shows that people who ate more than twice a week gained extra ten pounds than those who ate once a week. Doctors also express that having increase in insulin resistance is the path to type 2 diabetes, which can lead to heart diseases. Mark Perira states "it's extremely difficult to eat in a healthy way at a fast-food restaurant," which is totally true, because fast food restaurants don't use healthy ingredients and due to their greed for money and profits, they fail to care about the health of their consumers. In the Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity, Janet Curie and his peers state that fast foods are causes of obesity in this country and they signify that obesity is linked to "hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers"(64). Their combined study and reports show that consumers living close to fast food restaurants tend to be more overweight than rest of the population. After looking close at the nutritional facts and also mentioned by other authors, McDonalds' Big Mac contains 540 calories and regular fries contain 570 calories, Burger King's Double Whopper contain 990 calories, and 16 ounce regular Coke contain 200 calories. All of these data show that when combined into one meal, which typically consist of a sandwich, fries, and a drink, the number of calories exceed the daily intake for an average adult. Since it has been determined that one pound of fat contains 3,000 calories, exceeding over the limit of calorie intake only leads to weight gain. According to Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation, the expansion of fast food restaurants over America and even worldwide have increased the rate of people with obesity. Since the food is cheap, the people are overeating and they think they taking advantage of the prices of the foods, but they don't realize the effect of these high fat foods on their abdominal areas. Also due to the ingredients that are used in the production of foods on the menu, saturated fats are high in content, which have previously known to be the source of building of blood clots in the arteries in the heart and thus leading to heart attacks. In "Burgers on the Brain," Diane Marindale expresses that fast food restaurants are the causes of obesity due to the possibility of making fast foods addictive, because of the high content of fats and sugar. She states that on-going research suggest that food high in fats and sugar cause consumers to overeat, even when they are full. She suggests just like being addictive to drugs, these consumers are becoming addictive to these foods. Also she express that parents are failing to understand the concept of unhealthiness as they are taking their children to these restaurants.
Since the public is failing to acknowledge about the realities of fast foods on their lives, movies and novels have been written to increase the public awareness about their unhealthy state of lives. In Supersize Me, Morgan Spurlock uncovers the quality and unhealthiness of McDonald's franchise. Through his first person experience and eating three meals a day for one month, the results show that he almost died near the end of his documentary. The intense diet resulted in Morgan to gain weight and changes in his mood. The continual to eating at McDonald's increased his cholesterol and it also damaged his liver. He didn't get any exercise, because he was playing the role of an average American. In his experiment, by day 2, he already endured abdominal aches and vomiting in the parking lot. Results showed that after five days, he had gained around 10 pounds. His girlfriend, Alexander Jamieson stated that he had lost his energy and sex drive with this ongoing experiment. However by day 21, Morgan Spurlock had abnormal heart beats and Dr. Daryl Isaacs suggested that he should cease his experiment to "avoid serious health problems." Surprisingly he makes it through the thirty days with poor health conditions and critical attention to becoming fit again. Also According to "The Lean Mass Diet," Chuck Rudolph, Derek Charlebois and Marc Lobliner state that eating excessively at one time leads to fat storage instead of burning fat. In this guide, these authors express that the failure to maintain stable insulin levels throughout the day and control of calories consumed throughout the day leads to unwanted weight gain. In the guide, the authors suggest that people should eat small six meals instead of three big meals throughout the day to ensure that the body is balanced.
Many people have pushed to improve the system of fast food restaurants. Many consumers have filed lawsuits about their weight gain. These consumer have accused that fast food restaurants are the result of their health issues, but the fast food chains claim that the people who eat at their restaurants are responsible for what they putting into their mouth. Fast food restaurants don't want to take any responsibilities about the cases of obesity and specifically blame their customers for their actions. In New York and other twenty states, the officials are considering a legislation that would require fast food chains to provide nutritional information and calorie chart for all of the menu. After all, people should watch the food they eat and they should know that fast food restaurants should only be visited in times of need and not always as a way of rewarding oneself.