Are we taking it too far by blaming fast food restaurant for obesity? Although throughout the years many people have claimed that obesity is a genetic disorder for the most part; results of recent studies strongly indicate that lifestyles rather than genetics are what are causing an obese society, because people choose to not exercise, not watch their diet, and eat fast food. For the past few decades, food companies had aimed their marketing at single meals, pushing to inflate portion sizes. That initiative was wildly successful.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported, the average restaurant meal in the United States is now an unfathomable four times larger than it was in 1950(Health). That has translated into “Americans now consume 2,700 calories a day, about 500 calories more than 40 years ago,” according to The Atlantic Monthly. One predictable result of this trend is an obesity rate that’s poised to top 40 percent and that already costs the nation hundreds of billions of dollars in additional health care expenditures.
The other result is that the supersize campaign has become a victim of its own success. Indeed, food companies are coming to realize that, in terms of per-meal product sales, they are quickly approaching the point where the human body simply cannot — or will not — accommodate any more calories in a single sitting. That has left Big Food fretting about a profit-making path forward, and that’s where the innovators at Yum Brands come in.
Known for ignoring public health concerns and pioneering weapons-grade junk food, this conglomerate’s subsidiaries have most recently given us the cheeseburger-stuffed pizza (Pizza Hut), the Doritos-shelled taco (Taco Bell), and the “Double Down” (KFC) — a bacon-and-cheese sandwich that replaces bread with slabs of deep-fried chicken. So it should come as no surprise that with the three meals hitting their caloric max-out point, Yum Brands has been leading the effort to add a whole new gorging session to America’s daily schedule.
The campaign is called “fourth meal” and was originally launched in a series of Taco Bell spots telling kids that “everyone is a fourth mealier — some just don’t know it yet. ” Now, new “fourth meal” ads are once again popping up all over television, insisting that “sometimes the best dinner is after dinner(Dhar Tirtha). ” The ads are backed by an eponymous website and a “cravinator” Smartphone app that helps binge eaters select their junk food of choice.
Though the “fourth meal” campaign has been ongoing since 2006, it is particularly notable today because it proves that such marketing will persist even as the obesity epidemic becomes a full-fledged, headline-grabbing emergency. And it persists, of course, because these kinds of ads are wholly unregulated and tend to deliver for the food industry. A staggering 66% of people in America are considered obese. Studies suggest that fast-food consumption has increased fivefold among since 1970(Health). The fact of the matter is that obesity is spreading exponentially as well as fast food chains across the nation.
Several different components attribute to these high numbers of obesity. When these components are combined, the likelihood of obesity increased as well. The three major components that are the catalyst to obesity in our nation are food choices, society, and lifestyle. Obesity is an end result of the intricate interactions of behavior, and environment. Recent hypotheses in the scientific community suggest the current obesity epidemic is being driven largely by environmental factors (e. g. , high energy/high fat foods, fast food consumption, television watching, “super-sized” portions, etc. rather than biological ones. Individuals are bombarded with images and offers of high fat, high calorie, highly palatable, convenient, and inexpensive foods. These foods are packaged in portion sizes that far exceed federal recommendations. Furthermore, the physical demands of our society have changed resulting in an imbalance in energy intake and expenditure. Today’s stressful lifestyles compound the effects of environmental factors by impairing weight loss efforts and by promoting fat storage.
Combating the obesity epidemic demands environmental and social policy changes, particularly in the areas of portion size, availability of healthful foods, and promotion of physical activity. Food choices are often made without thinking. The fact of the matter is that many Americans do not have time to sit down and have a home cooked meal. This is unfortunate, because our society is always on the run. Many turn to fast food as a quick and easy option. What they fail to realize is that the choices they make are more harming then effective. Bibliography Dhar Tirtha, amd Kathy Baylis. fast food consumption and the ban on advertising targeting children. ” The Quebec experience (2011): 799-813. This article talk about amid growing concerns about childhood obesity and the associated health risks, several countries are considering banning fast food advertising targeting children. In this article, the authors study the effect of such a ban in the Canadian province of Quebec. Using household expenditure survey data from 1984 to 1992, authors examine whether expenditure on fast food is lower in those groups affected by the ban than in those that are not.
The authors use a novel triple difference-in-difference methodology by appropriately defining treatment and control groups and find that the ban’s effectiveness is not a result of the decrease in fast food expenditures per week but rather of the decrease in purchase propensity by 13% per week. Overall, the authors estimate that the ban reduced fast food consumption by US$88 million per year. The study suggests that advertising bans can be effective provided media markets do not overlap. Health, BMC Public. “Neighborhood fast food restuarant and fast food consumption. BMC Public Health (2011): 543-550. The article presents a study conducted to estimate the effect of neighborhood fast food availability on frequency of fast food consumption in a national sample of young adults in the U. S. , a population at high risk for obesity. The study found that there are chances that policies aiming to reduce neighborhood availability as a means to reduce fast food consumption among young adults will not be successful. The future research needs to consider individual lifestyle attitudes among other things. Hung- Hao, Chang and Rodofo M. Nayga Jr. Childhood obesity and unhappiness: The influence of soft drinks and fast food consumption. ” Journal of Happiness Studies (2010): 261-275. Hung-Hao explains the growing body of literature has examined the determinants of childhood obesity, but little is known about children’s subjective wellbeing. To fulfill this gap, this paper examines the effects of fast food and soft drink consumption on children’s overweight and unhappiness. Using a nationwide survey data in Taiwan and estimating a simultaneous mixed equation system, our results generally suggest a tradeoff in policy implication.
Fast food and soft drink consumption tend to be positively associated with children’s increased risk of being overweight but they are also negatively associated with their degree of unhappiness. Current and future policy/program interventions that aim to decrease fast food and soft drinks consumption of children to reduce childhood obesity may be more effective if these interventions also focus on ways that could compensate the increase in degree of unhappiness among children. Settler, Nicolas. Fast Food Marketing and children’s fast food consumption:Exploring Parents Influences in an Ethically Diverse sample. ” Public Policy & Marketing (2007): 221-235. Settler shows how fast-food marketing to children is considered a contributor to childhood obesity. Effects of marketing on parents may also contribute to childhood obesity. The authors explore relevant hypotheses with data from caregivers of 2- to 12-year-old children in medically underserved communities. The results have implications for obesity-related public policies and social marketing strategies.