There are over one hundred and sixty thousand fast food restaurants in the United States. Over fifty million Americans are served daily, making fast food a one hundred and ten billion dollar industry. Only a few decades ago, going out to eat was considered a treat, and a large majority of women stayed home and cooked a well-balanced, healthy dinner for their families. In the modern day, only twenty three percent of women are stay at home moms, compared to fifty percent in 1967(Cohn.Livingston.Wang.PewResearch). Whether Americans are busy working more hours to support their families, too poor to afford healthy, nutritious food or just for the fact is tastes good, there in a junk food epidemic.
You wake up late, panic, rush out of the door ad stop by the nearest drive-through fast food chain to grab some fuel, just to make it through the day. When lunchtime rolls around, you realize you forgot to pack a lunch, so you run out on your thirty lunch minute break, grab a greasy, delicious burger, chow down and head back to work. When five o’clock rolls around, your boss comes into your office and tells you he needs you to stay a few extra hours, and you can’t say no to the boss, so you oblige, with a growling stomach. By eight o’clock, you are too tired and hungry to wait to go home to eat, so you grab a quick, tasty meal, and head home exhausted. This is a common occurrence for blue and white collar workers. The average American works over forty hours a week to bring home a livable income for their families (Shabner.ABC). Most people find that there is just not enough time in the day to find time to eat a healthy, snack. That requires a certain amount of planning, which there just isn’t time for. Why stress out trying to plan a healthy, nutritious, and pricey meal when you can pick up a cheeseburger and large soft drink for two dollars?
With the average worker, taking home an annual salary of fifty-one thousand dollars before taxes, it can be challenging to budget for food, never mind the healthy foods. The average college student will carry over thirty five thousand dollars of debt by the time they graduate. The average cost to raise a single child is about two hundred and forty five thousand dollars. With that, the average person budgets just over one hundred and fifty dollars a week for food. Multiply that by a family of four and there can be a serious issue. The solution for many families is to eat cheap, low quality fast food. Researches estimated that a college student (though this applies to any single person), can live on eighty four dollars and thirty three cents a month if they eat out for every meal at places such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell (Lee.ScientificResearch). Recent statistics show that processes food makes up a whopping ninety percent of all the money Americans spend on food (Ellis.CNN). Who can resist a greasy, dripping burger with perfectly crunchy fires; the thought of which makes your mouth water.
It is no coincidence that fast food looks and tastes so good. It is all the product of clever marketing and costly research by big name food corporations. There are food engineers and flavorists whose job it is, to construct the perfectly juicy and tender burger or crispy potato chip by altering flavors or textures. The chip company Frito Lay uses a forty thousand dollar machine that replaces the act of chewing, with the goal of making the seamlessly crunchy chip.(Bistro.MD). In 2013, McDonald’s spent over nine hundred and sixty three million dollars on marketing, meaning one of every six dollars spent by the consumer, went towards marketing back to that same consumer (Bhasin.BuisnessInsider). Children are not immune to the industries influence. Most children can remember asking their parents to bring home fast food for dinner, or asking for a “Happy Meal” for lunch or dinner. They see advertisements for all the new toys that these companies are putting in their meal to try and persuade them to purchase it. Less than one percent of children’s combination meals meet nutrition standards set by experts (Tannenbaum.Delish). No matter the age, people are tempted to eat these delicious foods, but they are ignorant to the health issues that come with these unhealthy choices.
The main component in most artificial flavorings is monosodium glutamate which has high contents of sodium and sugar. The problem is that this ever-present ingredient can lead to heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. If that wasn’t scary, those tasty salty fires that everyone loves, contain high amounts of sodium which can lead to a condition called atherosclerosis, which is a plaque build-up in the arteries.(Clark.Livestrong) This condition is commonly associated with heart attacks, stroke and subsequently death. (Clark.Livestrong) .Another effect from eating too much junk food is obesity. This has been a well-publicized headline in that past decade, due to rising rates of obesity in adults and children. The effects of obesity includes host on conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancer, hypertension (dangerously high blood pressure), liver and gall balder disease and even infertility (CDC.Weight). Besides the other medical conditions associated with obesity such as heart disease, sleep apnea and asthma, it is also important to consider the quality of life someone with obesity may have. Imagine being considered “lucky” if you end up breathless and winded after just a few shorts steps. Due to the fact that most people end up wheel chairs because they cannot carry themselves, they are subject to a whole host of new conditions such as osteoarthritis, which is the breakdown of cartilage and tissue within a joint, which may leave some permanently in a wheelchair, even when extraordinary weight loss.
These potential dangers may seem extreme and rather out of touch with the average person’s everyday life, these dangers are very prevalent. A study was conducted over a year, and looked at the weight gain between those who ate fast good more than twice and week, and those who ate less. The study found that those who ate fast food less than twice a week, weighed ten pounds less than those who ate fast food more than twice a week. Ten pounds may not seem like a huge number, but that weight can easily creep up, leading to obesity. Some eat fast food out of ignorant, not knowing what it does t their bodies. Others, are either too poor to buy the more expensive healthier food, or they are going through the daily grind, and have no time to stay at home and cook a meal. Either way, it is important to know that an occasional burger will not lead to health problems, but a consistent pattern of eating unhealthy could spell trouble.