“Would you like some fries with that, sir?” is what you hear at any McDonald’s restaurant you can come by. You order a burger, and they offer you their crispy, yummy, juicy, famous French fries. Your brain is telling you to take it, but your heart is telling you to stop because it can hardly breathe anymore. People, with their busy schedules, go to fast food restaurants everyday without thinking if it is a good idea to eat there or not. It is cheaper and faster than other restaurants but the food is not good for anyone’s health. Despite its convenience, fast food can be very dangerous to us in the long run, which is why we should be aware of the risks and effects that it can give us so we can live a healthy lifestyle.
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One problem is the growing number of fast food restaurants and their advertisements. We find them everywhere; on the road, on taxis and buses, on billboards, on buildings and other places. Also, we don’t have to go to their restaurants to get their food because they now have their delivery hotlines. It increases the number of people eating fast food because most people like it better when their food comes to them instead of the harder, traditional way of sitting and eating at a restaurant.
Another problem with fast food restaurants is that it is very addictive. Once we eat there, we want more of it because it is so cheap, yummy and filling. Living near by a fast food restaurant doesn’t help either because we will want to eat there more. It will be the first place we’ll think about when we get hungry. It will be a good hangout place also with the wireless internet routers added to the place.
Lastly, fast food restaurants provide us food with food content that gives us very little nutritious content. They use very cheap ingredients which make fast food contain high amounts of sodium, cholesterol, fat and calories which can cause certain diseases like obesity, high blood pressure, and other heart diseases.
Fast Food Restaurants and Advertisements
We don’t have time to prepare a meal with the busy schedules we’re given now, we think it’s better to eat at a fast food restaurant instead and we forget about eating healthy. Fast food is getting more in demand as we know it, resulting to the growth of the fast food industry. As they get bigger, more people will come to eat at their restaurants. Now with their delivery hotline, people can just make an effort to call their numbers and the food will be delivered to their doorstep after half an hour. With a quick drive-thru, you get your food in less than 15 minutes or less! They make everything easier and faster for us because they know that that’s what the customers want. We also see so many advertisements around us, whether we are at home or on the road. The advertisements are on the radio, on billboards, on the internet, in newspapers, and in magazines. It’s as if they’re calling out to us and putting the idea in our heads to eat their food at their nearest restaurant as soon as possible. They give us easy to remember numbers so that we can call them anytime and anywhere without having to look at the directory book. Most fast food restaurants are now open 24/7 so we can stop by or call them anytime we want. Because it’s so easy, we get so used to eating at fast food restaurants that we don’t need to look at their menus to know what we want. This just shows us that eating there is more of a routine for us now. At about three in the afternoon, we get hungry and the first thing that pops up in our heads is “I’m craving for McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets right now, with fries and an Apple pie!” What most people don’t realize is that eating too much of it is very dangerous for us because we are not aware of the content.
Fast Food Addiction
Bringing young children to fast food restaurants for breakfast is a bad decision to make because the child can get addicted to the flavour and taste of the food. Once the child gets addicted to it, he or she will not stop asking for more. The idea that fast food is better than other food will be implanted into their heads and they will get addicted even until adulthood. It is better to make children practice eating more nutritious food such as vegetables and fruits.
Studies have shown that fast food is as addicting as drugs. Scientists made an experiment with rats and how they reacted to the fast food the scientists gave them. The rats which were given the fast food became obese and addicted to it. Professor Paul H. Kenny, who works as a professor of molecular therapeutics at the Scripps Research Institute, stated that the rats’ brains were used to eating food that was highly pleasurable that it would not go for anything else or do anything else but eat the food given to them. The rats would ignore electric shocks just to eat the food (Greviskes).
Fast food, like drugs, can lead to addiction, thus, a person addicted to fast food will have to endure the consequences. The more we eat fast food, the more we will get addicted. We will choose to eat only fast food and nothing else. Children at a young age, when given fast food, may get used to eating fast food. When they do, they may get obese when they are not given a balanced diet.
Fast food can make us very full even at a cheap price. The reason for this is because fast food restaurants use cheap ingredients for their food which contain high amounts of sodium, cholesterol, calories and fat (Children’s Hospital Boston).
There are a lot of uses for sodium. It can be used to preserve food, enhance its flavour, and to prevent the growth of pathogens. But sodium can cause very dangerous effects if one consumes too much of it. It can give us an increase in blood pressure and a high risk of heart diseases. According to the American Heart Association, it is best if one limits their sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day (American Heart Association, Inc.). The food on the McDonald’s menu with the highest sodium content is the McDonald’s Spanish Omelet Bagel with a sodium content of 1570 mg (Fast Food.com). That’s more than the sodium intake one must consume per day in a single bagel.
Fats, with the right amount, are good because it keeps us warm and cushions our organs inside our body. Some fatty acids are essential to our body because they are used up for energy and become part of our body chemicals, such as hormones. Fats are classified into two types: saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are found only in plant products while saturated fats are found in animal products. Another name for saturated fat is cholesterol. Cholesterol helps the body absorb what we need, although too much cholesterol is also bad for our body. It can cause heart diseases and osteoporosis because it can thin the bones (Berkoff 124).
Calories are released in the digestion and absorption of food. Some food and drinks contain calories. We should not worry about if there are calories in food or not, but how much calories food has. The recommended calorie intake per day for us is 2000 calories. Fast food is packed with very high amounts of calories that one breakfast meal can have up to 1000 calories. That’s half the calories you can take up in a day.
Fast food can cause us a lot of bad diseases like obesity and high blood pressure. Being obese does not only lower our self-esteem, it can also increase risks of hypertension, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, diabetes and some types of cancer.
Statistics show that more than 190 million in the American population are obese and the diseases that are related with obesity costs 147 billion dollars every year (Doane). Clearly, something has to be done about this, and not only in America. We should be very aware of the food we eat and the things we do. One way is to not make eating fast food a routine for us by thinking of the possible consequences it can give us. A good idea to prevent obesity is to maintain a healthy lifestyle and exercise daily to use up the energy that we consume.
One child struggling with obesity stated that “she started gaining weight when her family started buying cheaper foods” (Doane). She observed that she became obese when they started to budget their food and to get cheaper food instead, namely, food from fast food restaurants. However, obesity can be prevented, and that starts with the choice of food we eat every day. There are a lot of better foods that are healthier and more nutritious than fast food. All it takes for us to do is to get used to a healthy diet.
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Diabetes is a disease wherein there is too much sugar in the bloodstream. It is caused by lack of insulin in our body. Insulin is released by our pancreas and it is used to maintain blood sugar. The most common type of diabetes is Type 2 Diabetes. It is caused by too much obesity and the lack of exercise. With the growing number of fast food restaurants around the world, there is a high risk for obesity in our society.
Most people consume fast food because they do not have the time to cook for themselves, or just simply do not bother at all. They are putting themselves at a higher risk of obesity and diabetes, or worse, death.
Statistics show that 7.8% of the population in the United States have diabetes. In 2006, Diabetes was one of the highest causes of death in the United States. 233,619 people died because of diabetes in 2005 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Fast Food Nation
From book to movie, author Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation was a hit. Schlosser was able to go into the plants and the factories where the meats used by fast food joints are made. He observed that a lot of factors leading to food borne illnesses from fast food restaurants start at these plants and factories. Factors like the process of cutting meat, treatment of cattle, and the use of chemicals to trick our minds to eat fast food.
Everything that goes into our stomachs should be treated with the utmost care because it is the fuel that drives us to become healthy and have enough energy. However, the treatment that cattle get from the factories and plants is terrible. They are given small, crowded space to live in, and are hardly cared for. Other than that, they are fed the remains of dead pigs, horses and poultry, metal fragments, saw dust, and cattle blood (Stacel). Feeding these to the cattle will make them weak and will make them lose nutritious content. Some illnesses will begin to develop in them, and thus cases of food borne illnesses take place. When the cattle are “ready”, they are forced to walk to where they are going to be slaughtered. The cattle which are too weak to walk are then going to be picked up by forklifts (Stacel).
While workers in plants are required to slaughter 175 cattle per hour twenty years ago, workers today are now required to slaughter 400 cattle per hour. Because of this, the workers tend to be less careful in slaughtering the cattle. This leads to accidents like limbs of the workers getting mixed up and processed into what customers think are just cow meat. Not only limbs get mixed into the meat, but also the external wastes of the cattle because workers who are not careful enough accidentally cut the intestinal cords of the cattle (Stacel).
Fast food restaurants also work into tricking our minds to buy their food (Stacel). They want us to think that what we buy from them are healthy and fresh, while the truth is it is all old, dead, and dirty. They use chemicals like food coloring in the meat to show customers that their bright red meat had just been slaughtered for them to buy, while other chemicals trick our noses. The smell that comes from food is often noticed or observed first before tasting. Knowing how strong the smell of food can trick our minds to eat, scientists made chemicals that imitate the smell that comes out of food. This is where the smell of fast food comes from, chemicals that want us to think that what we are eating are real hamburgers or French fries made with real, fresh potatoes.
The movie Fast Food Nation is a documentary that will change someone’s mind to stop eating fast food. People will realize how careless and ruthless the fast food industry works to sell what they call food.
Avoiding Fast Food
When people are on the road, and are hungry, they usually go to the nearest fast food restaurant but there are ways to prevent people in this kind of situations from eating at a fast food restaurant. The simplest way is to bring along any small, portable and nutritious food that can be eaten inside a car. Foods like bread, sandwiches, or a banana are so much healthier and nutritious than fast food and they are the perfect food that can be eaten inside a car.
At home, when you don’t feel the urge to cook, a simple and fast way to eat is to mix up together a simple salad for yourself or your family. Instead of French fries, baked potatoes are just as tasty and are healthier.
Eating fast food is a big risk to our health because it can cause different illnesses like diabetes and obesity. Some people may say that eating fast food once in a while is not at all bad, but we should still be careful and aware because eating fast food is addictive.
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