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Is Fast Food the New Tobacco?

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Is Fast Food the New Tobacco?


Is fast food the new tobacco? This is the question we will try to answer in this essay.
Just like their name suggests, fast foods are foods that are literally prepared and then eaten within
a few minutes. The notion of the ready-made food is to have a food that one can serve with ease.
This is the main reason why these foods are a popular preference for many people across the
world. People do not mind the dietary implications that these foods have on them and this has led
to the adoption of a culture of eating on the spot. This cuts the duration that is spent preparing
Therefore, criticizing this lifestyle makes a person a villain regardless of the existing evidence
that suggests that this is a harmful lifestyle to human health. The ensuing debate on whether fast
foods should be demonized is similar to tobaccos debate. The question that needs an answer is
whether fast foods will now be the new tobacco. This relates to the way the public and the

government will handle the volatile debate on fast foods as well as the perceptions of the
Smoking tobacco is an existing habit that has been there for a long time than consumption of fast
foods. However, the two can be seen as equal because they are seen and handled by the
government and the public. A paper on health and smoking entitled; Key Dates in the History of
Anti-tobacco Campaigning, the medical study related smoking tobacco to lung cancer directly in
This is a representation of the point where war against tobacco smoking gained momentum
because tobacco was presented as harmful in the medical perspective. This stance had a better
impact on the society than the strategy that positioned it before by representing the smoker as
having dubious morals. However, fast foods have not been brought to the spotlight for quite a
while although their momentum is slowly picking with people being urged to abandon the
culture of consuming fast foods.

Over the recent past, the focus of research has been on fast foods, their impact on human health
and dietary values. This has been the priority of nutritionists and medical field practitioners. A
growing concern has been the rampant rate of various conditions including obesity and gaining
excess weight among the contemporary populations. Researchers propose that these conditions
are proliferated by fast foods dependency among the populations (Currie et al. 34).
This depicts fast foods as being harmful to health and the perception is gaining momentum.
Currently, this issue is being debated on by many people on whether to treat fast foods the way
they treat drugs because they can also hurt healthy survival of the population.

Effects of Fast Foods

My conviction is that fast foods debate will not die

or simmer soon. Instead, this debate will continue to grow and soon it will be a political issue
causing great applaud and uproar. The major reason for my stance is that there is an everincreasing influence by the medical field. According to Swinburn et al, in their article entitled;
Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Excess Weight Gain and Obesity, inappropriate diets and

inactive lifestyles some of the obesitys risk factors. Fast foods as well as adverse socioeconomic
conditions are among the aspects of inappropriate diets. (Swinburn et al.123).
The argument of the paper is that obesity is common in the populations whose characteristics
include mechanization and urbanization (Swinburn et al. 124). Such characteristics of a
population tend to make the population to have diets that are high in sugars and fat as well as
sedentary lifestyle.
Populations have been affected by these factors with diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular
diseases and obesity being prevalent. Therefore, urban settings have these diseases as the main
causes of high mortality rates which overtake nutrient deficiency and infectious diseases which
traditionally have been the main life expectancy indicators (Swinburn et al. 124).
Therefore, fast foods culture is evidently the main cause of mortality and morbidity. Diabetes II
and obesity prevalence has increased over the past years due to high dependency level of fast
foods. Working out the body mass index (BMI) of a person is the medical method that is used to
calculate whether a person is obese.
A person can be overweight or obese depending on their BMI level. Eating fast foods is usually
associated with the populations that gain weight after which they attain high BMI levels. Among
the medical conditions that are associated with high BMI levels include LDL cholesterol, high
total cholesterol, high blood pressure, hypertension, triglyceride levels and low level of HDL
Gaining weight and obesity are some of the risk factors of stroke and coronary heart disease
(Swinburn et al. 125). According to Swinburn et al., obesity is a global epidemic which is
increasing at a fast rate. The aim of the article is to identify potential food and nutrition drivers in
a bid to determine appropriate intervention strategies. In addition to deleterious medical cases
that are related to fast foods, another article by DeVoe and Zhong entitled; You Are How You
Eat: Fast Food and Impatience examines the impact of fast foods on the choices and behavior of
According to these authors, consumption of fast foods can cause an impatient choices and
behaviors in a person beyond their feeding domain. As they established in their study, this
response occurs not just when one is exposed to fast foods by also when one is unconsciously
exposed to the symbols of fast foods.
Mere exposure to the symbols of fast food was found to affect a persons decisions on issues that
relate to saving. The authors noted that exposure to these foods automatically makes a person to
have a time saving habit (DeVoe and Zhong 3). This is the reason why these foods are very
popular due to their ability to enable individuals to save time. Fast foods have inculcated
immediate gratification and time efficiency culture among the people. Perhaps, this explains why
the time saving culture has been inducted in people who are exposed to the symbols of fast foods
(DeVoe and Zhong 4).

Despite the fact that time saving appears to be a positive characteristic, when viewed from an
entire perspective it is not a desirable traits. In the work environments, time saving is a valuable
characteristic where wasting time translates to low productivity. In such a case, time
consciousness is a culture that can be readily accepted because it promotes productivity.
Contrary to this, there are cases where time consciousness is not necessary. For instance, the
paper illustrated a case where one is fastening their pace while strolling in a park just because of
the culture of time consciousness.
This would appear weird or unnatural and an example of impatience caused by fast foods
exposure (DeVoe and Zhong 4). Apart from creating the unnecessary haste culture, fast foods
have also led to the establishment of a society that treasures instant gratification contrary to the
future values (DeVoe and Zhong 9). Despite being an uncommon topic for discussion, fast foods
are a representation of the oppression of some groups in the population.
For instance, in America as expressed by Freeman in the article entitled; Fast Food: Oppression
through Poor Nutrition, the people in the inner city do not enjoy their right to a healthy diet
because the government has not established policies for limiting the fast foods industry. Overdependence on fast foods among these populations exposes them to higher risks of developing
health-related diseases.
The belief of Freeman is that the people living in the inner city are at a higher risk of developing
health-related diseases because their class and race comprise of food oppression. Regardless of
the continued awareness campaigns that are done to enlighten people on the harmful effects that
fast foods have on their health, the information is not absorbed in the inner city.
Additionally, the government is not making attempts to regulate the fast foods industry. When
combined, these conditions increase fast foods consumption among the Latinos and African
Americans. They consume fast foods because they find the affordable or lack of awareness of
their side effects on their health. (Freeman 2221).
According to this article, food oppression is structural oppression because it is not caused by
individualistic actions. Instead, it is caused by structural systems including policies and practices
in the industry that produces fast foods. Freeman gives an example that indicates the
discriminatory policies of the government where it allocates inadequate resources to assist the
public. Therefore, limited assistance cannot allow dependents to purchase fresh and healthy
diets. This promotes fast foods even among those aware of their side effects (2222).
The intention of Freeman is to indicate that the existence of a free-market society as the
government perpetuate is false as it continues to support the fast foods industry. When the
government allows fast foods to cost low prices than organic foods, it leaves the poor with no
choice other than consuming fast foods that are harmful to their health (2258).
In addition to these side effects that these foods have, they are also a liability to the economy in
America. This is according to the article: The Harsh Price Americans Pay for Fast Food Jobs by
Olson. He notes that over a half of the individuals in the industry rely on aid from the
government that is almost double to that the entire working population gets.

This is due to the fact that the companies in the fast foods industry pay little wages to the
employees such that even after working for 40 hours they still need aid from the government. As
though this was not enough, just a small number of employees in the industry are able to work
for 40 hours per week.
According Olson, a worker in the industry gets an average hourly pay that is less than that of the
other American workers. Thus, they need government aids constantly. Additionally, most of the
companies in the fast food industry deny workers their healthcare benefits. Considering their
working conditions, other taxpayers in America must provide the money required to provide
government aids to these workers.

The above mentioned arguments are not necessarily a representation of all disadvantages that the
fast foods have. However, they represent some pertinent issues raised by the ensuing debates on
the fast foods. Despite having slight advantages over the organic foods, fast foods have effects
on human health that requires one to rethink over reliance on them or making them the dietary
source (Jekanowski et al. 58). Just like it was stated earlier, these foods will become new tobacco
in the society considering the similarities of the reactions that they both cause.
Cigarettes and fast foods are produced to provide comfort to the users and to fulfill a satisfaction
desire among the people. Both have short term satisfaction in most cases but they have negative
medical effects in the long run. With the side effects that fast foods have on an individuals
health, people have constantly changing perceptions about them. It is no doubt that this debate
eventually will turn political requiring measures to be taken to reduce their consumption by the
global population.

Works Cited

Currie, et al. The Effect of fast food Restaurants on Obesity and Weight Gain. American
Economic Journal: Economic Policy 2. 3. 2010: 32-63
Freeman, Andrea. Fast Food: Oppression Through Poor Nutrition. California Law Review
95. 6. 2007: 2221-2260.

Jekanowski, et al. Convinience, Accessibility and the Demand for Fast Food. Journal of
Agricultural and Resource Economics 26. 1.2001: 58-74
Key Dates in The History of Anti-Tobacco Campaigning. Action on Smoking and Health. Web.
4 Dec. 2013. <>

Olson, Elizabeth. The Harsh Price Americans Pay for Fast Food Jobs. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.
Swinburn, et al. Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Excess Weight Gain and Obesity.
Public Health Nutrition 7. 1A. 2004: 123-146
Zhong, Chen-Bo and DeVoe, Sanford E. You are How You Eat: Fast Food and Impatience.
Psychological Science: 1-14
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