Introduction: Today’s world is one of innovation. People have more information and the capability to do things quicker and more efficiently than ever before. Because this is true, many people are aware that technology is bringing ease and convenience into the lives of everyday American’s and those around the world. However, technology is not the only area that convenience and ease are presenting itself. In the culinary world, America has been subject to great growth and success. This comes in the form of the fast food and convenience food franchise. Never before have we seen such emphasis on the advertisement, location, and popularity of these fast food chains. In short, the fast food world has taken the country by storm, giving everyday American’s the option of quick, easy, and cheap food.
Debate: Because fast food restaurants are so available to the common citizen, this causes many to question how this is affecting the everyday life and the health of American citizens. The majority of people believe that the convenience and location of fast food establishments throughout America affect the common eating habits of those with access to it and that because of this common access, it is contributing to the obesity epidemic of America (Obesity in the United States Perception). There are those that recognize this epidemic yet do not necessarily believe that fast food is the main factor or that it affects daily eating habits.
Watco: So, what are the reasons for these differing opinions in regard to this matter? What truly are the consequences of fast food availability and American’s food choices, and how is that related to obesity?
A-C: Fast food, in its best form, is quick, easy, and convenient. In the lives of busy American’s today, fast food often satisfies their expectations. In fact, an informal survey conducted within an English 2010 class at Utah Valley University (UVU) found this statement to be true. In this study it was found that all participants lived near fast food establishments and that 60% of the participants ate out on a regular basis. The participants who said they consumed fast food on a regular basis also said that they would rather go to a fast food restaurant than make something at home or bring something from home with them on the go. In fact, this survey also showed that 80% of participants believe that fast food is highly influential on regular eating habits. Through this we see that there are many who rely on fast food on a regular basis.
To support these findings, information through an informal interview from the South Summit School District Lunch Coordinator was collected. The goal was to obtain information on the percentage of students who eat school lunch on an open campus. The results were this: only 25% of students stay for lunch. That leaves 75% of students to either provide their own lunch from home or go to a local fast food establishment. Though these findings are helpful, more information was needed into order to estimate what portion of that percentage truly were eating out on a regular basis.
In order estimate how much of this majority truly was eating, I conducted daily observation. Each day as the South Summit High School lunch hour approached, the student parking lot was observed. The capacity of the parking lot was checked at intervals throughout the lunch hour and found that the majority of the cars left the parking lot during this time. Upon further observation, there were many people arriving at the school with convenience items or food from a fast food establishment. After a few weeks of this observation, a conclusion was able to be made: a large majority of those not eating school lunch daily left the premises of the school and bought fast food or convenience items. This goes to show that the option of fast food effects the majority of South Summit High School students’ daily eating habits.
These findings are supported by journalist John Fetto. In his Article Fast Food Nation, it was stated that “14 percent of Americans consume a diet comprised almost entirely of fast food” (Fetto). Fetto also revealed through a report from the Chicago-based Mintel Consumer Intelligence that “more than 1 in 5 of those ages 18 to 24 (22 percent) say their diet consists mainly of fast food and convenience food” (Fetto). These combined reports show that fast food establishments are not simply a luxury anymore. For many it is becoming a part of everyday life.
Recognizing this is true, a question arises. It is observable that fast food effects eating habits, but is it more than just convenience? Robyn Chuter, a neuropath and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) therapist, mentioned a report from the Medicai Hypotheses, finding that foods such as sugar, refined sweeteners and carbohydrates, salt, fat, and caffeine are addictive substances (Chuter). Because these common substances in fast food are addictive, this often leads to consumers to crave it more. It then becomes much harder for the consumer to regulate how often they eat these substances, or go out to eat. From this we see that there is a scientific reason coupling convenience when concerned with why fast food is affecting American’s eating habits.
C-B: These changed eating habits and possible addictions are what promotes obesity in America today. Partly due to these acquired eating habits, obesity becoming a blatant problem. It is affecting every man, woman, and child, regardless of location, age, or ethnicity. Overall, “60% of American adults are obese… [and] 15% of children ages 6-11 are overweight” (Sorenson). This percentage is increasingly on the rise. As we look closer into the obesity epidemic problem, it becomes increasingly clear that it is directly related to everyday food choices.
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