The increase in the consumption of junk food across the globe has been causing serious concern to all who are aware of its negative effects, such as obesity and depression, which are considered as the initiator of many serious diseases like heart disease. While the research findings have clearly linked junk food with the rising rate of heart disease among teenagers (Cohen, 2000) nearly a decade ago, the business of junk food is only increasing and now it has become a craze among teenagers and is getting into their eating habits, which would be hard to break in later years.
Another recent study in US has linked childhood obesity to junk food advertising (Sharma, 2008), which too seems to be a matter of serious concern, as a large number of TV viewers are either children or teenagers. There are many other studies too that clinically explain about how obesity and depression caused by eating junk food, and there are organizations too, which are working towards attracting the attention of all regarding the negative effects of junk food.
However, in spite of all that, the business of junk food is only increasing in volumes, and consequently, countless children and teenagers, who are the future governors of the society are becoming victims of obesity and depression due to excessive consumption of junk-food.
Therefore the gravity of the situation is definitely no less than the danger associated with smoking or drinking, which are officially considered as “injurious to health” and whose producers have to pay taxes. There is another philosophy works behind it – that high price of cigarette or other tobacco products or liquors would keep them beyond the buying power of the children who generally use their pocket money for fancy spending.
However, there is no such price regulation in the business of junk-food, and children can easily afford them with their pocket money. This situation invariably invokes the arguments like why fat tax should not be imposed on junk food to regulate its consumption among all, especially among children, or if cigarette and liquor are considered dangerous to health and are kept under taxation, then why junk-food too should not be treated with same alacrity, as it is proving no less dangerous than tobacco and alcohol?
Therefore, the gravity of the situation has influenced this study to examine the impact of junk food on the humans, and especially on the children and teenagers by reviewing the study and observations of the researchers on obesity and depression, before persuading its readers to raise their voices in favor of introducing fat tax on junk food for the sake of saving the future of human civilization.
Impact of Obesity
Obesity can cause several diseases, which can be fatal, besides being barrier to normal, healthy life. The risk factors associated with it don’t even spare children or teenagers, and that makes obesity as a dangerous carrier of diseases. According to the researchers Visscher and Seidell (2001), the increase in obesity across the globe will have significant contribution in the following diseases:
· Cardiovascular disease
· Type 2 diabetes mellitus
· Work Disability
· Sleep apnea
Alongside they issue caution that “disability due to obesity-related cardiovascular diseases will increase along with an increase in disabling nephropathy, arteriosclerosis, neuropathy, and retinopathy particularly in industrialized countries.” They also observe that prevention programs on obesity would be effective than weight loss program, while adding that there is very few prevention programs have been developed so far and implementation of more such programs should be one of the major scientific and political agendas among both industrialized and industrializing countries.
Connection between Junk Food and Obesity
It would be even more frustrating if someone reviews the role of junk food in developing obesity amid such observations and recommendations of the researchers. The researchers at the Pacific Health Education Center in Bakersfield, California, and Prevention Concepts, Inc., in Los Angeles, who evaluated the dietary habits and cardiac risk profiles of above 200 high school students in as early as 2000, provided a gloomy picture about the state of health of the then children, where one-third of them showed abnormally high cholesterol levels and one in 10 students were found suffering from systolic hypertension, which is a form of high blood pressure (Cohen, 2000).
Not only that, the report issued alarm on the possible rise of heart disease among the teenagers with thickening artery walls. The researchers also identified two causes behind the increase in the trend of forming eating habits with junk food, like teen attitudes and lack of government funding to counter attack the powerful advertising campaign of junk food, which heavily influences the attitudes of children and the teens.
The current research on the effect of junk-food advertising on children and teenagers (Sharma, 2008) not only supports the earlier works on this field, but also directly links advertising to childhood obesity. In a study conducted by National Bureau of Economic Research clearly show a link between childhood obesity and fast food advertisements aired on American TV world. This inference is backed by the data found on the television habits of around 13,000 children through two national surveys conducted in 1979 and in 1997.
The study also found that the ban on such advertisement would lower the number of obese children (belonging to 3-11 year age group) and teenagers (belonging to 12-18 years group) by 18 percent and 14 percent respectively. They study also reveals the bad news like 22 million children under age of five are estimated to be overweight and more than 9 million children in US are overweight, 25 percent American children below 10 years have high cholesterol and high blood pressure, along with other precursors of heart disease.
However, it also presents good news that the countries like Sweden, Norway, Finland and UK have already banned junk-food advertisements in their televisions. This shows, that a general awareness regarding the deadly effects of junk food has been spreading.