Obesity among kids in the United States is on the rise. Many studies have shown the correlation between obesity and the fast food. The statistics show that in the United States almost six out of every ten people eat fast foods. The habit of eating fast foods is not a recent development. History has it that the practices could date as early as 512BC (think quest).
During this period, some Egyptian restaurants offered a single dish of wild fowl, cereal, and onions. Ever since that, time restaurants have completely and progressively changed. Today there are thousands of restaurants all over the world. Most the fast foods sold always have some characteristics in common, in whichever part of the world the restaurant is located.
It has been established that in most adults eat more fast foods because of the increasing working hours and not finding time for home cooked meal (Morgan, 2004). The other reason is that there are so many tasty choices for one to choose from. Furthermore, it does not take long to get the fast foods when one is in a hurry. Making it quite convenient for students and kids.
Many American kids love fast foods like the specially created “combo” meals that are sold by the many restaurants specifically for them. The meals are always colorfully boxed and sometimes toys included for attracting the kids. Many kids seem to love the idea of going out with their friend and parents because they know that in process they get to buy the foods and snacks. Children would nag and insist on going out and have various kinds of of fast foods rather than having the homemade food.
This is not surprising for they are easily lured by the attractive advertisement of fast foods oblivious of the dangers associated with them (Buzzle articles).
The nutrition content of most fast foods is a worrying thing. Most of them have proven to be very unhealthy for kids and results in the increasing incidences of obesity among the them. These foods are sold cheaply something that consistently tempts the consumers to them. It is a known fact that most of the fast foods are usually high in fat, cholesterol and sodium. Eating of these fast foods over along period of time lead to many health problems like the high blood pressure , heart diseases and obesity.
Various researches have been done to determine the extent to which fast foods are contributing to obesity not only in children but also in the entire human community. For example, a study by the USDA’s agricultural research service on some 90000US citizens established that over a quarter of adults in age group above 20 years eat fast foods daily. These foods are highly sugary; contain fats, carbohydrates and too many proteins (food navigator, 2004).
Furthermore, research by a team lead by Mendoza aimed specifically at the content of the kid’s fast food. They targeted the meals served at some ten well-known regional restaurants situated in Houston. In their studies, the team found that only three percent of the food offered at these eating-places met the seven key standards set by the national school lunch program for meals intended for children in the kindergarten and through third grade. The meals which were referred to as the “best choice” were only made up of deli-style sandwich,-turkey, ham, roast beef or tuna-combined with a fruit, such as apple slices or raisins (ARS, 2009).
Other meals include plain hamburger, fruit s, and low fat milk as well as a beverage. The meals that failed to meet the school lunch guidelines had more than 65 percent of fat. Furthermore, 75 per cent of the meals had too, little calcium, 82 percent had too little iron and 85 percent too little vitamin. Also according to Mendoza, the energy density of the fast foods not meeting the school lunch standards was 2.3 calories per gram compared to only 1.5 calories recommended by the standards.
These findings though obtained from Houston alone qualify well to represent the reality nationally. According to the researchers, Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States. In addition, 10 of the restaurants there are among the 13 of the nation’s regional national fast food chains, which sell kid’s fast food (ARS, 2009).
Most of these researches were spurred by the increasing levels in the number of obesity case among children. In fact, it has been established that more than 16 percent of children in the United States were overweight. In addition, there was a doubling in the estimated incidences of overweight among children and triple in the rate among adolescents. There was also the concern of by the pediatricians and other health care professionals that found the child obesity trend quite alarming and its potential death consequences.
These findings related to the number of meals eaten away from homes. The rate of meals eaten away from home has grown from 20 percent in the 1970s to more than 30 percent presently. In a Further survey by the department of agriculture food surveys of Americans, 25 percent of us children aged between four and eight would on a typical day take fast food (ARS, 2009)
The main consequence of this fast food has been the increase in the number of overweight children. These yummy tasty and low costs happy foods are the attributes. One big challenge associated with this fast food is that it is becoming socially accepted (Milos, 2010). Many purple would decide to overcome guilt by giving themselves a treat by going to consume these food. There are commercials all over urging people to get latest desserts and other food. This has made it look superficially right but that is not the case.
The various ingredients of these foods have distinct health effects. Some people argue that we are in an era of junk food. The children have been driven away from the green leafy vegetable and only relish these fast foods. The effects that come out are irreversibly harmful. The excess sugar in these fast foods and the sodas laed to diabetes in the children’s body. They may develop the type 2 diabetes that is more prominent with the grand parents and parents (my child health ). In this case, the body fails to produce adequate insulin that controls the sugar levels and the body metabolism.
In addition, the fats and saturated fats lead to high levels of cholesterol in the blood. The cholesterol is associated with many heart complications. Such heart problems can lead to increase in major heart diseases. Furthermore, the fats can ale to a condition known as dyslipidemia, which occurs when the LDL levels and triglycerides are abnormally high (Buzzle). These can put the children in a very precarious situation of coronary heart diseases.
Some of these fast foods contain excess sodium that is a big contributor of high blood pressure. Increase in the blood pressure can lead to rupture and cracks in the blood vessel walls. The human body uses lipoproteins in repair of these walls converting it into substance that contains cholesterols hence lead to increase in the cholesterol levels ( Eric, 2005). As children, indulge more and more in this fast food, their bodies become deficient of vitamins and iron.
This is because most of these foods do not contain such nutrients. They therefore become anemic. This makes them lethargic and get tired so easily. This is because their diets always almost become completely deficient of green vegetables and fresh fruits causing great deficiency of both macro and micro nutrient supplements in their bodies (my child health). The result of this is reduced immunity making the children to become highly susceptible to various diseases and ailments. The body also becomes deficient of calcium that makes their teeth to be very weak, nails and bones brittle. The various preservatives used in these foods may also be carcinogenic.
Remedy to fast foods problems
It is important to note that there is no such a thing as bad food. Any food can fit into a healthy meal plan. The fast food chains should therefore revamp their menus to respond to the customer’s comments. These has been observed in some restaurants for example there are those that do not serve food with trans fat, but instead have more fruits and vegetables .
According to the CYWH Staff, the following tips can be helpful in setting up a healthy diet. It is advisable to choose boiled foods over fried ones likes the grilled chicken sandwich instead of fried chicken or chicken nuggets. Secondly, one should choose soups hat are not cream based. This means that if the names of these soups include something like “creamy tomato soup” or any of that kind, then they should be avoided. The foods should have low –fat salad instead of full–fat salad kind. One should choose low fat milk, or diet sodas instead of regular sodas, fruits drinks, milkshakes, or whole milk.
If you can access fruits and vegetables, they should be added to the meal. For example, have lettuce and tomato on sandwiches or burgers. When one orders for foods like pizza its good to add veggies instead of meat , as well as getting thin crust instead of deep fish.
Since many researches have clearly established that restaurants selling fast foods have great contribution into the effects of these foods like the obesity, there should be a regulation into their activities. A study by the NBER established that the proximity of these restaurants s to work places and learning institutions have had a big impact into these.
For example for pregnant women, having such a restaurant within 0.10 miles increases the probability of gaining 20 kilos during their pregnancy( NBER). As for children, having the restaurants within proximity of 0.25 to 0.50 miles had the same implications. It follows that such restaurants should be away from children. Policies should be laid in place to restrict the availability of fast food in residential areas and schools.
Eric S, Fast Food Nation, Harper Perennial, (2005).
Morgan S, (2004), Super Size Me, Movie Reviews
Agricultural research service, kid’s fat food and obesity. Accessed on August 2, 2010 from http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/oct09/kids1009.htm
Buzzle, Fast Foods and the Child Obesity. Accessed on August 2, 2010 from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/fast-food-and-child-obesity.html
Milos P. (2010), Are fast food and obesity, accessed on august from http://ezinearticles.com/?Are-Fast-Food-and-Obesity-Related?&id=357337
Think quest, Welcome to the Real Truth about Fast Foods and Nutrition, Accessed On August 2, 2010 from http://library.thinkquest.org/4485/
My child health, Effects of Fast foods on children, Accessed on August 3, 2010 from http://www.mychildhealth.net/effects-of-fast-food-on-children.html
NBER, the national bureau of economic research, Accessed on August 3, 2010 from http://www.nber.org/aginghealth/2009no1/w14721.html