The fast food industry has with time come under criticism for various reasons, top of which are: negative health effects, workforce exploitation and maltreatment, cultural degradation and cruelty towards animals. With regard to cultural shift, the global fast food industry, of which McDonalds is symbolically epitomized, is accused of shifting various populations' general eating patterns.
The number of individuals, suffering from lifestyle diseases are increasing gradually, as more people are adopting the consumption of fast foods. As aforementioned, the shift from more health and nutritious foods, to the fast food industry's main dishes of unhealthy and often calorie-laden menus, has produced negative results with far reaching consequences. These have adverse effects on not only the health and mental wellbeing of individuals, but also on other social aspects, such as political governance, economic output and overall social expenditure (Lee).
Individuals with relatively low income are majorly affected by the prevailing cases of obesity and overweight issues. While the above holds true, there are a number of factors, which have inadvertently added to the prevailing circumstances, which provide for a preference of fast foods over the more nutritious (balanced diet) traditional foods. As Watson (40) showcases, the adverse effects of obesity and being overweight, are not only secluded to the wealthy and well to do, but also the urban poor. This is significantly true of the industrialized world, and to a lesser extent, the developing world.
Factors crucial to this are rooted in the socio-economic and political contexts of a given jurisdiction, with effects being felt throughout the global arena. The fact that lesser volumes of traditional foods are being cultivated portends to lesser nutritional content for the growing global populations. This provides for a dire scenario in the near future, where more and more individuals are nutritionally deprived. The prevalence of fast foods, though economically viable and a time saver, has negative effects in the end. This is due to the health implications to be encountered, as well as the dynamic effects on the socio-economic and governance aspects of society (Watson 45)
Fast Foods as an Alternative Form of Dietary Intake
Fast foods, sold under various brand names, from various fast food chain outlets, continue being a great hindrance to the healthy output of a majority of urban populations. This is due to their relative prevalence, ease of access, affordability and convenience, as opposed to fast foods, which are more time and resource consuming. This may be aggravated by the nature of procurement, preparation aspect, as well as the aspect of inconvenience, which makes many individuals opt for fast foods.
Social impacts are thus more prevalent in such racial categories of population, as this necessitates greater spending on social and medical/ health welfare. The fact that the existing limited resources are channeled towards curative measures, as opposed to protective measures, means that lesser funding will be available to other core social facets (Lee). This essentially translates to an un-even input-output rational context, where the population present uses more resources than that provided through their collective input.
The current consumption pattern of fast foods threatens the health of the consumers, considering the quantity of calories tied to these foods, as well as adverse health effects that have detrimental effects on the society.
Historical Overview of Balanced Diet
Prior to the adoption of the fast foods, a balanced diet was emphasized for healthy living. Thus, a balanced diet involved a mixture of different food categories in a way that every nutritional component was addressed in every meal. This involved the consumption of foods from different sources with emphasis on the most imperative nutritional component. (Rajveer & Monika 2).
Historical Overview of Fast Foods
Fast foods, on the other hand, were previously discouraged as a means of sustenance due to the quantity of calories that they supply, as well as the negative health effects that they instigate in the human body. The existing fast food joints performed poorly during their initial growth/ expansion stages. However, gradually, the fast food sector has become acceptable amongst global populations with relatively lower income and it connection to convenience (Watson 47).
The Collapse of The Emphasis on Balanced Diet and Adoption of Fast Foods
The changing or shifting pattern of consumption that emphasized on convenience led to the emergence and adoption of the fast foods. This was at the expense of the existing healthy form of living that emphasized on balanced diets, which were crucial for the greater and healthier sustenance of man. While fast food outlets came with varying advantages, the prevailing nature of their negative effects and influences inadvertently negates all the gained advantages (4).
Modernization, as influenced by the advent of globalization, resulted in masse rural-urban migrations, which resulted in the young and productive populace, shifting to urban areas. Consequently, the young and elderly populations were left in the rural areas, which essentially served as primary contributors to healthy and nutritional diets. Farming thus was negated to these population segments, whose general output is far less than the prevailing demand (Rajveer & Monika 5).
Little information exists on the correlation between the other social problems instigated by fast foods, since most current research focuses on the health effects. There is thus a greater need to focus on the socio-economic and even political effects of an unhealthy population, on a given society. Ashakiran and Deepthi (7), further add by displaying the negative social effects that unhealthy dietary intake has on the prevailing social fabric. Thus, through an interdisciplinary evaluation can the overall social causal effects and influences be best-understood and, therefore, more inclusive contribution towards mitigating and eventually alleviating the negative results prevail.
Fast Foods and Health Effects
Fast foods have contributed to various health effects that relate to poor dieting. This is due to the appealing nature of junk/fast food, which is advantaged through its quick, fashionable, convenient and tasty nature. The clever advertisements and allures of convenience are pertinent aspects, which entice populations to fast foods. Time factors, the alluring taste, overall attractiveness and clever advertising are all contributory factors to the higher intake of various types of fast foods (Ashakiran & Deepthi 8-9).
Obesity stands as the most common health effects that have affected individuals within the lower income bracket. While many would be in disagreement, providing the nature of obesity, as being confined to the wealthy populace, social studies and research have found the increasing occurrence of obesity in this population segment. The prevailing nature of affordability and convenience has provided an avenue of nutrition, especially, to the urban poor, who cannot afford traditional balanced diets. This may be rooted in the fact that fresh produce is a bit expensive for wholesome continuous consumption.
Other diseases that have significant impacts on the society include diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, hypertension and asthma. As Kirkpatrick portends, most of those queuing through fast food chain drive-thru lines would most likely not order well-balanced meals, especially those packed with nutrients and full of fiber. Consequently, such populations have compromised their health and wellbeing, for taste and convenience, leaving themselves vulnerable to various lifestyle diseases and ailments as aforementioned (Kirkpatrick).
The increase of the health effects is owed to the growing adoption of fast foods even among populations that have adequate access to the healthy diets. As aforementioned, the ease of preparation, timesaving factor and convenience provide various individuals with an easier route to their daily nutritional intake, which is, unfortunately, often lacking in terms of balanced nutrients and minerals. As Lee provides, various studies portend to a dire future case scenario, where such negligence will bring a huge population under medical treatment, for various cases of treatable ailments (Lee).
The Health Effects and Social Impact
The occurrence of fast food, related health effects bears considerable social impact through the utilization of resources that should otherwise be directed towards development into alleviation of these health effects. This is because more resources are expanded on social welfare, as well as the health and medical wellbeing of such populations, with little being diverted to more socially comprehensive and influencing channels. Through medical and healthcare provision, which is expensive, governments are increasingly becoming pressed for funds, crucial for governance and economic growth.
Health effects are causing deaths, which affect the productivity within the society. While traditionally, younger populations would often take care of their elderly, through continuous social-economic input, current prevailing circumstances have negated this crucial aspect to their respective governments. Consequently, younger and more productive people are dying because of lifestyle diseases, which are easily preventable through balanced dietary intake (Ashakiran & Deepthi).
Diseases such as obesity among the infants have created the need for promoting healthful living that utilizes resources that would be used in societal developments. This would necessitate a vital shift from fast foods to more involving food preparation, with children, being involved more to acculturate a culture of wholesome food preparation and consumption. There is the need for greater involvement in fitness and general exercises, which would aid their bodies' burn more calories. This is opposed to the current prevailing contexts, where most are engaged in non-calorie burning activities.
Remedies for the Fast Food Consumption Trend
Promotion of Balanced Diets and Healthy Training
The growing trend of obesity and overweight issues can be reversed gradually, if not mitigated and hence provide for a more secure and healthy future. Exercises are crucial to the overall well-being of an individual, due to the various advantages and benefits inherent (Lee). By shifting to traditional foods, which are healthier and more nutritious, the negative effects of junk food can gradually be reversed.
Campaigns for the Homemade Foods, as Opposed to Fast Foods
These campaigns are crucial in accomplishing a holistic shift of mindset. A great advantage of the fast food industry is that it possesses the capacity to churn out great/ clever advertisements, which do attract and retain such huge populations. Consequently, various initiatives should be started and further enhanced towards emancipating the prevailing ideals of traditional foods. Local/ slow food movements are crucial starting steps, aiming at preserving and disseminating information about local ingredients, cuisines and general traditional food preparation.
Provision of information regarding the health effects of fast foods
This should be clearly indicated, in the various medical sites and policy networks, especially with reference to the food industry. Governments should stringently require a greater provision of vital data, especially pertaining to general consumption of various foods as provided in various food outlets. Calorie intake present should be clearly indicated, so as to clearly provide crucial information, thus rendering ignorance as a weak excuse, and more blame on optional choice of the individual (Rajveer & Monika 8-9).
Subsidizing Healthy Meals for the Lower Income Individuals
This would be a great move in the right direction as traditional foods, though being more nutritious and healthy, are unfortunately out of the reach of a majority of urban populations. The poor are especially affected, as they have a limited choice of dietary intake, hence are dependent on junk food. This should be actively enacted by way of government involvement, as this necessitates macro-economic input/ contribution.
Replacement of Fast Food Chains with Organic Food
Chains to Alter the Eating Habits
Though being a far-fetched idea, can be gradually implemented, pertinently so with increased government input, as well as a holistic social refocus on better and healthier lifestyles (Kirkpatrick). This would necessitate a shift from junk food, to more traditional meals, which are far healthier and nutrient-packed.
Fast foods generate adverse health effects that influence the society in negative ways through the consumption of funds, which are meant for community development. This is due to the funds being directed towards the alleviation of the societal problems, as opposed to the creation of better opportunities through enhanced socio-economic input. The health effects attributed to fast foods include obesity, hypertension, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes among others. These diseases and ailments, it should be noted are fundamentally lifestyle-induced and hence preventable.
Thus, it should be the focus of all facets of current social systems, to work together through a holistic approach, with regard to tackling the prevailing nature of lifestyle induced illnesses and ailments. The society ought to present strategies to discourage the consumption of fast foods and promote the consumption of foods that present the body with the necessary nourishment. Through such an approach, there is a greater focus on future effects, and hence better means of combating various inherent diseases.