Present essay addresses the negative issues of fast food in modern society through the prism of the comprehensive analysis of its affects on health, culture, ethics and economy.
There is no denying the importance of the fact that the issue of the fast food became relevant as a result of the modern globalization processes, which influenced the spread of the ‘American’ style of nutrition through the mechanism of its commercialization. The evolution of fast food, as Jakle suggests, dates back to the post-industrial era of Western society including rapid development of automobile roots and road restaurants (Jakle, 21-26).
Such components of fast food as hot dogs, hamburgers etc. were traditionally the elements of national patterns of nutrition, however, due to economic and cultural globalization, mentioned products reached new markets and peoples and proclaimed themselves as generally accepted patterns of food consumption.
Such transnational corporations as McDonalds represent the paramount of the latter processes, because they control not only national markets, but international markets of food consumption in general. Negative effects of fast food were widely addressed in journalist and scholarly research, however, comprehensive framework of its analysis as cultural and economic phenomena is not still created.
Based on these reservations, present essay defends the following thesis: Fast food is characterized by the negative effects on several spheres of human life. First of all, consuming fast food results in poor health consequences and including stomach deceases, diabetes etc. Secondly, fast food results in the degradation of national cuisines and cultural patterns of consumption, based on the perception of consumption as a spiritual ritual, characterized by emotional and aesthetic satisfaction.
Finally, the third sub-thesis of the present essay refers to negative economic consequences of fast food, because it results in the low priorities of national food industries due to monopolization of this market by such American giants as McDonalds.
Negative health implications of fast food are the most obvious and are generally the object of the harsh critique. Fast food contains large quantity of calories and fats, which results in the deterioration of biological metabolism and concentration of sugar in the human blood and consequently abnormal functioning of various organs. As Adams suggests, fast food consumption is one the main causes of the obesity epidemics in many countries, including the most widespread implication for the abdominal fat (Adams, 155).
The research on fast food implication on health also revealed that it develops signs of the insulin resistance, which may be described as the early indicator of such decease as diabetes (Obesity in America, 2008). As Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation suggest in this respect, ‘it seems wherever America’s fast food chains go, waistlines inevitably start expanding’ (Schlosser, 242). The problem of obesity as result of fast food consumption is evident in many Western and nowadays non-Western countries, where the fast food industry is the most developed.
The problem is amplified by the fact that obesity is not officially acknowledged as the health problem or epidemics. Only health consequences of obesity on heart, lungs and other crucial organs are addressed, however the main problem is not resolved, because such approach deals with the secondary issues, but not the causes.
The diet and healthy food consumption, however, becomes very difficult for the majority of ordinary people fast food market offers cheaper products. To sum it up, health implications of fast food are widely acknowledged which certifies to the relevance of the first sub-thesis.
Cultural and Ethical Implications of Fast Food
Negative cultural and ethical implications of fast food are connected with the mode of its production and consumption. Fast food represents an industrial pattern of production, which focuses on profit and quantity, rather than quality. It is standardized and utilizes products, which are not always biologically healthy.
Such approach results in degradation of national cuisines, which traditionally focused on home-made products, which are to be properly served and properly eaten. This tradition is still present in restaurants; however the majority of people still are forced to consume fast food due to intense advertising and relative cheapness.
Culture of fast food is something that is characterized by haste, rationalization, lack of spirituality and aesthetic beauty. Unlike prepared meals, fast food has nothing to do with creativity and professionalism and hence it lacks cultural meaning.
Negative ethical implications of fast food production may be observed in mass slaughterhouses, where meat and other products are prepared. Schlosser describes the atmosphere, which reigns there in such a way, “burning hair and blood, that greasy smell, and the odor of rotten eggs.” (Schlosser, 68).
Fast Food and Economy
Fast food is inextricably connected with poverty, because it parasitizes on the majority of people, who have no financial possibility to consume healthy food. The latter is closely linked with the absence of adequate health education. The globalization of fast food market also results in the monopolization of the food market in the developing countries.
McDonald’s hamburgers are currently the most famous type of food and are considered by many as tasty and trendy. National cuisines are still popular; however, the trend spreads in the direction of their defeat by fast food market. The latter negatively affects the economies of developing countries, which lose external markets. McDonalds-style monopolization aggravates poverty, existing in developing countries by means of degrading its health potential and consequently its labor market.
Opposing Perspective on Fast Food
Those, who support fast food usually point to its cheapness, fast preparation and availability. The first argument was criticized in this paper based on poor quality of fast food and its parasitizing on poverty; the second point proceeds from the false assumption that fast preparation is something valuable. In contrast, present paper showed that it results in poor consequences for health and culture.
Present essay defended the stated thesis that fast food negatively affects human health, culture, ethics and economy. Health implications are evident in the wide number of studies, as well apparent syndrome of obesity in Western countries. Cultural and ethical implications relate to the degradation of the patterns of spiritual and cultural food consumption, based on family and national traditions. Finally, economic consequences refer to the trend of standardization of fast food production, its link with poverty and social inequality.
Adams, Catherine. (2007) “Reframing the Obesity Debate: McDonald’s Role May Surprise You.” Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics Vol. 35: 154-157.
Jakle, John (1999). Fast Food: Roadside Restaurants in the Automobile Age. Johns Hopkins University Press.
Obesity In America. (2008). The Endocrine Society; The Hormone Foundation. Accessed on 25 May, 2009 at <http://www.obesityinamerica.org>.
Schlosser, Eric. (2002). Fast Food Nation. Penguin Books.