We live in a fast moving world. Besides, people find themselves caught up with many things to do in this modern-day society such that there isn’t enough time to do everything in a day. For instance, many families have both parents working and therefore there is very little time left, if any, for them to prepare a meal at home. As a result, fast food restaurants are viewed by many people as a rescue. However, according to Hogan, most of them do not understand the dangers which fast foods pose to their health (22).
It is imperative to note that even though fast food restaurants feed people quickly, they may at the same time end up killing them as fast. In fact, the unprecedented increase in the consumption of fast foods in the present-day society is a major factor that contributes towards poor health conditions among individuals. As such, in an effort to reduce obesity and other health hazards in this country, health officials should consider banning fast food restaurants as a major preliminary step.
According to Luxenberg, the origin of fast food restaurants can be traced back in 1954 when Burger King established a fast food restaurant in Miami (30). By 1960’s, Burger King had grown to be a household name across the entire world. Nevertheless, this name came with a precarious diet of salty fries and fatty hamburgers, something which was, and still is unknown to many people. Currently in the U.S, over fifty million people depend on fast food. On the other hand, Americans spend more than 110 billion dollars on different types of fast foods yearly. Unfortunately, as Luxenberg asserts, most of them are unaware that too much salt raises their blood pressure and that fatty food such as hamburgers increase the level of cholesterol in the human body (31). Generally, many fast foods contain meat-based carcinogens, saturated fats, high salt levels and excessive calories. As such, an unrelenting dependence on them may ultimately lead to a heart attack, or a stroke (Luxenberg 32).
Research has suggested that ever since the popularity of fast food chains like Burger King, Wendy’s and McDonalds increased, the average teenager in the US started weighing between twenty and forty pounds more than what they use to weigh forty years ago (Schlosser 50). According to a multi-center study that was conducted in the U.S by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) on the eating habits of various people, after a period of fifteen years of conducting this study, those individuals who ate at fast food restaurants more than two times in a week had gained more than ten pounds of weight and had doubled their increase in insulin resistance, a major risk factor for type-2 diabetes, as opposed to their counterparts who ate only once a week in these fast food restaurants. According to Schlosser, one reason for this weight gain is the fact that a single meal from these restaurants usually contains sufficient amounts of calories to satisfy an individual’s caloric requirement for a whole day, which is approcimately1000 calories, but most people often eat in these restaurants more than once in a single day thus exceeding the daily caloric requirement (51).
Fast foods are not only dangerous to the human body, but also promote a culture and lifestyles which are very dangerous. They make people live lives that are extremely fast, frenzied and commercial. According to Levinstein, food should be human being’s sanctuary from the madness of this world, and not part of it (228). Levinstein articulates that it was indeed not accidental for Dave Thomas, the Chief Executive Officer of Wendy’s, who advertises his company’s burgers on the television, to undergo a coronary bypass operation some years back due to the consumption of fast foods (229). It is therefore incredibly ironical for him to continue hawking these products to other people when he is fully aware of their dangers.
The fast food industry has also brought about a significant shift in the slaughter and meat packing industry. This is because it has to produce enormous quantities of chopped beef for its millions of pre-prepared hamburger patties which are sold everyday. The methods which are used to produce these hamburgers have led to a situation whereby meat packing industries are shifting away from their previous responsibility of using unionized and properly trained meat packers to slaughter animals in an efficient and humane way. The new industries have instead shifted to smaller towns where they use underpaid workers to slaughter animals. Kroc asserts that the situation is even worse because they produce meat in very unsafe ways with very high risks of contamination. In addition, these plants have very poor working environments, thus very dangerous to the health of their workers (64).
As aforementioned, health officials should consider banning fast food restaurants as a major preliminary step towards improving the health of all citizens. Apart from selling dangerous foods, most of these restaurants are staffed with huge numbers of underage employees. In addition, most of them ignore the child labor laws which limit the working hours of children. A recent study in the U.S indicated that most of the children who work in fast food restaurants have higher incidences of drug use, and their performance in school is poor.
It is therefore imperative for all the stakeholders to stop overlooking the social costs of the fast food industry and act immediately by banning fast food restaurants, since this whole scenario is impacting negatively on the quality of human life. On the other hand, people should learn to say no to fast foods and embrace healthy eating habits. For instance, they can learn to prepare meals the night before after work and just reheat the next day before eating. They may also prepare a couple of meals during weekends. People should simply find solutions to these problems instead of depending on fast foods and die quickly.