Fast food, which is known as a type of food which is produced in mass production process with modern techniques and can be consumed fast in low-cost restaurants, is increasingly developing worldwide nowadays. According to Statistic Brain (2012), there are 160,000 fast food restaurants in USA in particular, which serve food for about 50 million Americans everyday and the total expenditure that Americans spend on fast food restaurants is $110 billion per year. By the end of 2010, McDonald's, an American well-known fast food giant, reported that in the following three years, it would set up 1,000 new restaurants in China, meanwhile, Burger King, another large fast food chain store in the USA, also inaugurated more than 30 outlets in that Asia country (Research and Market 2011). According to these figures, there are more and more people who are interested in this kind of food, however, fast food is proven as a pathogen with high level of fat. Most fast foods contain trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils, which are often used to enhance flavor in food industry but increase the risk of heart diseases more than other fats do (Wilson n.d.). It is also claimed by Wilson (n.d.) that if we consume more than 5 grams of trans fats each day, the threat of getting heart attack will rise by 25 percent. Meanwhile, "more than half of the large-sized fast-food meals analyzed in one study surpassed the 5-gram limit" (Wilson n.d.). Therefore, this paper, with the purpose of helping people have a deep insight about fast food, discusses the questions of how popular fast food is in these days, why so many people are lured in it and why people should limit the fast food intake.
2. Discussion of findings
2.1. The popularity of fast-food
Nowadays, fast food becomes so familiar that it is impossible for many Americans to imagine a world without it. According to Consumer Reports, there is approximately one out of five Americans eating at a fast-food restaurant on a typical day and about four-fifth of American population visit a fast-food chain every month (Fritschner & Jacobson 1991). Children seem to be lured in fast-food most, there is only one-tenth of kids in U.S.A not going to a McDonald's outlet monthly (Random Facts 2009) and there are about 93 percent of children who can identify accurately the logos of fast-food chains ( abc News 2010). Fast food is not only an integral part in American's lives, but it is also favorite with many people over the world. When McDonald's inaugurated a new store in Kuwait in 1992, the line of cars waiting to enjoy fast food was seven miles in length (Random Facts 2009). According to Rehman, Z. U. (2011), Subway ranks first in the large scale with 33,749 fast-food restaurants all over the word, McDonald's comes next with the total number 32,737 chain stores worldwide, after that are Starbucks, KFC, Pizza Huts, Burger King. KFC now owns about 16,200 fast food outlets dominating in over 100 nations (Rehman 2011) with over 3,000 restaurants in China (Research and Market 2011) and about 800 restaurants in Japan (Fritschner & Jacobson 1991). McDonald's now possesses more than 30,000 privileged stores in over 120 countries including remote areas such as Belgium, Holland, India and so on (Wilson n.d.). Fast food is believed deeply to bring USA a very large profit .According to Random Facts (2009), the earned income of fast-food industry in USA was $6 billion in 1970, this figure increased dramatically to nearly $142 billion in 2006. It is also calculated by experts that each American spends an average of $250 per year on fast food (Fritschner & Jacobson 1991).
2.2 Advantages of fast food
There are some reasons explaining why fast food is more and more universal nowadays such as convenience, availability and taste diversity. Convenience can be regarded as the core of fast-food business and an effective way to compete for more customers. Nearness is a vital aspect of convenience, no one wants to spend their busy time driving far or making dangerous turns so as to take a mediocre hamburger. This problem leads to a prominent idea: drive-through windows, a kind of purchase that permits customers not to leave their car. More than half of worldwide fast food business is now done at drive-thru (Fritschner & Jacobson 1991). From no single drive -through windows in 1975, in 2002 more than 90% of McDonald's restaurants had, Starbucks owned 205 drive-through windows at convenient locations (Horovitz 2002). He also claimed that if customers buy fast food in a drive-thru, they can save much time, preview menu board can cause everyone to decide more quickly, they can order food and pour drink at the same time and it only takes people nine seconds to have a toasted bun. Pizza restaurants have made a breakthrough with home delivery service, too. Domino's Pizza, which confirms to deliver pizzas to domicile within 30 minutes, has its delivery staff ride everything from speedboats in Alaska to roller skates in New York to scooters in London and Hong Kong (Fritschner & Jacobson 1991).
Besides convenience, fast food seems to be always available, we can find a fast-food restaurant in everywhere in a city, at schools, at museums, on beaches, on college campuses even on military bases. It is obvious that anywhere there is exciting crowds and relaxing hours, there is a restaurant potential. Fritschner & Jacobson mention that many fast-food companies have moved onto college campuses, into dormitories, even they have arranged for students to be able to use their dormitory-cafeteria meal ticket to buy their brand-name fast foods (1991). In a research conducted in 20 largest cities over the world, Pope (2007) indicates that about 70% of secondary schools in those cities had at least a fast-food chain within walking distance.
Another attraction of fast food industry is the diversity of flavors. In the 1980, the high price of beef made many companies choose fish, chicken and pork as major alternative ingredients for origin flavors, they also cared about women's market with salad choices (Fritschner &Jacobson 1991). If people eat out at a McDonald's restaurant, they can be provided options of more than 40 items: sandwiches, fries, salads, fried chickens, hamburger, fried fish and so forth (1991). With all features, that fast food becomes preferred and a part of our way of life is bound to be inevitableness.
2.3 Drawbacks of fast food
For many reasons, the majority of people have great indulgence with fast food, but the more we eat, the more questions we put about the quality of our diets, whether fast food is detrimental to their health or not. This suspense has been clarified by the claims of many studies that fast food is big danger of motivating a variety of health problems, even some of which are potentially life-threatening (Fritschner &Jacobson 1991). Fat as well as trans fat is the number one problem that people should take into consideration. According to the United States Department of Agricultural, the maximum amount of fat which an ordinary person can consume per day is 65 grams while a McDonald's large order including fries, cake and beverage contains 72 grams of fat (Wilson n.d.). Hot dogs, hamburgers, cheese, ice creams are major sources of fat, snack foods such as chips, nuts are high in fat, even sweets like pies, doughnuts, most cake and cookies contain hidden fat. High-fat rations are not only implicated in some forms of cancer and complicate diabetes, but they play a considerable part in heart and cardiovascular diseases as well (Fritschner & Jacobson 1991). The authors also point out that high-fat diets can increase the high risk of breast cancer, which killed 44,000 American women in 1990. According to University of Maryland Medical Central (2010), trans fats, which are very bad fats used mostly in potato chips, crackers, cookies and many other fast food products, can also clog up arteries allowing blood flow to brain and heart, which can result in a high ability of heart attack or stroke risk, especially in women. Nowadays, many people in America in particular and in developed countries in general see obesity as the most distressing and alarming issue. According to a research of California Healthline (2004), obesity has become a competitor with cancer in causing deaths with the dramatic rise from 300,000 in 1990 to more than 500,000 deaths in 2005. One of the agents that have to bear responsibility for this sharp increase is fast food or more specifically the amount of calories people gain when eating fast food. Both Wilson (n.d.) and Kidd (2012) demonstrate that just a fast-food meal can also provide everyone with the amount of calories they need to consume in a whole day. For example, a Big Mac consisting of chips, of an apple pie and a large Coke can supply customers with 1701 calories while the daily average consumption of an adult is proposed only 2000 calories (Wilson n.d.). Kidd (2012) claims that it will take people six hours to walk or jog continuously if they want to eliminate all the calories they have taken from fast food products.
Not only our health is victim of fast food, but environment also has to suffer from it. Because of the huge demand for beef of many hamburger chains, many primeval forests in Central and South America have been chopped down to make room for beef cattle farms (Fritschner & Jacobson 1991). The authors also mention that a typical fast-food restaurant often generates thousands of pounds of polystyrene waste a year. Packaging of fast- food industry has created 20% of rubbish worldwide with environmentally unfriendly packaging products such as boxes, nylon bags, napkins, plastic wares and Styrofoam containers (Walton 2011). Among all of the litter, Styrofoam is the most terrible litter with the estimated time to dissolve up to 900 years (2011). Besides that, fume let out from the exhaust pipes of vehicles transporting fast-food worsens the air pollution over the world. These vehicles which use petrol or gasoline emit many toxic chemicals and gases into the air, making the global warming worse. A recent research in Hong Kong indicates that a fast-food restaurant producing 4 hamburgers may release the same amount of VOCs, the common air pollutants, as driving a car for 1,000 miles (Walton 2011).