The popularity of fast foods is growing at an alarming rate in most parts of the world. Due to the fact that the current generation is always busy, most individuals consider fast food as a convenient food source. According to Elizabeth et al. (1024), fast foods can be prepared in a matter of minutes and are therefore very convenient for people who do not want to cook or those who tend to be busy. However, what people literally view as a fast way of getting food is killing more people than you think. Therefore, despite its many advantages, everyone should think twice before deciding to eat fast foods. Americans should stop consuming fast foods regularly because a fast food diet affects the health of an individual, affects the society through the spread of diseases and litters the environment.
Although a majority of people argue that fast foods save time, Dana (23) posits that fast food is bad and not good for our general health. According to Agnieszka et al. (317), a majority of junk foods such as instant noodles, hamburgers and confectionery are of very low nutritional value. Such foods are very high in sugar and in fact and are a major contributor to obesity. Obesity on the other hand greatly increases an individual’s susceptibility to other health problems such as heart disease and hypertension. Poti et al. (168) contend that this problem becomes even worse when they do not engage in physical activities. Powell, Lisa and Nguyen. (17) report that about 61% of Americans suffer from obesity and in most cases, this leads to problems such as heart disease and diabetes.
Furthermore, Ryu, Lee and Gon Kim (217) report that too much intake of soft drinks causes a decline in dental health. Therefore, such a diet of unhealthy fast foods should be prohibited and avoided at all costs. It is also vital to note that the cooking method of most fast foods involves frying. According to Dunford (1025), frying destroys most of the vital minerals needed for the human health. This, in turn, will lead to the development of nutrient deficiency diseases such as marasmus. The more we continue prioritizing fat foods, the more we risk suffering from nutrient deficiency diseases.
In addition, fast foods have been proven to trigger behavioural problems among children in school. With the increased popularity of fast foods, most school canteens readily sell such food to students. However, most of these foods such as soft drinks and instant noodles contain a lot of chemical additives to lengthen the shelf life. These additives have been found to be associated with behavioural complications such as poor concentration and hyperactivity among school children (Dunford, 1023). It has been reported by Gunders (18) that when such foods are readily available in schools, students are unable to develop healthy because they lack vital nutrients and as such, there is a reduction in their learning potential. The results of a study by Jaworowska (310) on school children pointed out that students became calmer after lunch when fast foods were removed from the school canteen. Therefore, despite the fact that we try to come up with different ways of processing the foods we plant such as using potatoes to make chips, we should also look at effects of such fast foods on the society, on our children.
Besides that, the packaging used in fat foods are a major contributor to the litter problem. Fast foods tend to utilise a lot of packaging and the overuse of plastic ware, bags, straws and wrappers is the largest source of urban litter in the United States. Gunders (2) argues that fast foods make up to 50% of street litter. Litter is both a health and safety hazard, a lot of costs is used to clean the streets and this also portrays a bad image of the society (Jaworowska, 315). A majority of fast food vendors just sell take-away foods and do not provide feeding spaces. As such, individuals are forced to eat in the fields, vehicles or in classrooms. When they are done, they throw the packets at such places and this leads to building up of litter.
Additionally, the production of fast food poses harm to the environment. As per Powell, Lisa and Nguyen (19), the chemicals contained in fast foods greatly affect the environment. A majority of fast foods involve meat products and most of these products are produced in factory farms which contribute to global warming. When the packages used in fast foods are disposed of in streets, they are easily carried by the wind into water bodies. As mentioned earlier, fast foods contain fertilizers, hormones and drugs which affect water quality. Ryu, Lee and Gon Kim (200) contend that these chemical additives contained in fast foods seep into the surrounding water killing sea animals and resulting in outbreaks of waterborne diseases.
The outbreak of water diseases that is brought about by fast foods greatly affects the society. This is because a lot of money is used to treat waterborne diseases such as cholera. Additionally, waterborne diseases contribute to a significant percentage of deaths in the United States (Powell, Lisa and Nguyen, 16). As if that is not enough, the accumulation of litter from packages of fast foods exposes the society to health related problems. The smell alone from the rotting rubbish pollutes the air and the presence of the rubbish exposes the society to diseases such as typhoid, amoeba and cholera (Ryu, Lee and Gon Kim, 204). According to Powell, Lisa and Nguyen (14), a large percentage of waste that goes into the municipal landfills is basically food. When such food decomposes in landfills it releases greenhouse gases which are very threatening to the environment.
Fast foods also lead to foodborne diseases. Dunford (1026) contends that what people don’t know is the conditions that the slaughtered animals were living in before they were killed. A study by Gunders (5) discovered that most fast foods such as chicken, beef and pork are prepared in very dirty environments. Chickens are being stuffed up together, the slaughter room for cows or pigs is full of bacteria which easily mixes with the meat and the resultant of this is foodborne diseases (Gunders, 23). In relation to this, a recent study pointed out that about 50% of soda fountains at fast food joints are made up of coliform bacteria, a bacteria that thrives in feces and 12% contained E.coli bacteria (Gunders, 25). The thought that even our soft drinks are infected by foodborne bacteria related to meat is really sickening. So, is it justified to buy fast foods because they are easily available and save cooking time? Of course not, because they are very detrimental to our health.
Having discussed the dangers that fast foods pose to the society, individuals and the planet, it is imperative to also look at the solutions to these problems. The environmental impact of fast foods can be solved by diverting the food wastes disposed of in landfills so as to reduce the resources involved in the production of food (Jaworowska, 316). Energy, fertilizers, water and pesticides are examples of such resources. It is everyone’s right to consume food, but if we waste any type of food, we are indirectly wasting the resources involved in its production. Greenhouse gases are also produced during growth, manufacturing, transportation and disposing of food. Therefore, reducing food wastage can help to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Jaworowska (311) also views that the logical solution to this will be to encourage the switch to compostable packaging by the fast food restaurants. Gunders (2) also proposes installation of Bio bins behind restaurants.
The health issues associated with fast foods can be controlled by generally encouraging the consumption of healthy foods (Poti et al., 167). It is not bad to consume fast foods once in a while but overconsumption can lead to significant health problems. Therefore, educating individuals on the vitality of eating healthy food is crucial to help them understand the harm they are doing to their body when consuming fast foods. The society, on the other hand, can help by appropriately disposing of wrappings of fast foods. This will enable the municipal officials to easily collect and recycle such wastes (Poti et al., 169).
In conclusion, food is good but we should consider the type of food that we eat and its effects to the environment that we live in. Fast foods affect individuals through the development of health complications. The society, on the other hand, is affected when there is a spread of foodborne and waterborne diseases. Fast foods also affect the environment through the poor disposal of wastes, accumulation of non-decomposable materials in landfills and release of harmful chemicals into the soil and water system. These problems can be solved through proper water disposal, reduction in the frequency of fast food consumption and educating the society and individuals on the consequences of fast foods.
- Dunford, Elizabeth, et al. “The variability of reported salt levels in fast foods across six countries: opportunities for salt reduction.” Canadian Medical Association Journal 184.9 (2012): 1023-1028.
- Gunders, Dana. “Wasted: How America is losing up to 40 percent of its food from farm to fork to landfill.” Natural Resources Defense Council (2012): 1-26.
- Jaworowska, Agnieszka, et al. “Nutritional challenges and health implications of takeaway and fast food.” Nutrition reviews 71.5 (2013): 310-318.
- Poti, Jennifer M., Kiyah J. Duffey, and Barry M. Popkin. “The association of fast food consumption with poor dietary outcomes and obesity among children: is it the fast food or the remainder of the diet?.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 99.1 (2014): 162-171.
- Powell, Lisa M., and Binh T. Nguyen. “Fast-food and full-service restaurant consumption among children and adolescents: effect on energy, beverage, and nutrient intake.” JAMA pediatrics 167.1 (2013): 14-20.
- Ryu, Kisang, Hye-Rin Lee, and Woo Gon Kim. “The influence of the quality of the physical environment, food, and service on restaurant image, customer perceived value, customer satisfaction, and behavioral intentions.”International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management 24.2 (2012): 200-223.