Fast Food and Obesity: The Super-Sizing of America
I can remember my introduction to McDonalds. It was back in the day when the precise number of hamburgers they had sold was posted on the signage. The sales have since become so extreme that they simply advertise that billions have been sold. The number staggers me. I cannot fathom one billion of anything, much less hamburgers. How much acreage would one billion hamburgers consume? How deep into the ocean would one billion hamburgers sink? Perhaps I need to discover better outlets for my thoughts.
Anyway, the premise of McDonalds was wonderful. Burgers were something like thirty-five cents at the time, but the cost was essentially meaningless to me whereas Mom and Dad were financing my childhood existence. The amazing part was the rapidity of the transaction. A hamburger was requested and then, shazzam, there it was. Immediate. The same with the fries. Instantaneous. And the taste, well"I was positive that this was the stuff royalty consumed. Kings and queens scarfing down immediate cheeseburgers and instant French fries. Does it get any better than this? Presumably, billions would argue that it does not.
Then some wise guys ruined it for us all, myself and the kings and queens. These villains noted that fast food is bad for us, a mix of salt, sugar, fat and calories that are nutritionally void and cause obesity.
Although it cannot be presently said with absolute certainty that fast food causes obesity, the evidence is mounting.
The Simultaneous Rise of Fast Food and Obesity
In the last thirty years, obesity and those diseases related to obesity have skyrocketed in the United States. The number of overweight children in the age bracket of six to nineteen years old has tripled. Overweight adults rose from being half the population to two-thirds of the population. Over the course of this same period, the number of fast food restaurants have doubled.
But the fact that the number of fast food restaurants and the rate of obesity has increased simultaneously does not establish a causal link.
The Link Between Fast Food and Obesity
While it cannot be stated with certainty that fats food causes obesity, a link between the two can be established. In a 15 year study of the eating and recreation habits of young adults conducted by the Coronary Artery risk Development in Young Adults, it was suggested that fast food consumption can be a cause for health issues.
The study found that the subjects who ate fast food two or more times per week gained an average of ten pounds more than the subjects who ate fast food less than once per week. It was also discovered that regular consumption of fast food increased the risk for type 2 diabetes.
In a study conducted by the University of California at Berkeley, it was found that children who had easy access to places where fast food was sold were at increased risk for obesity. If a fast food restaurant was within a tenth of a mile from
a school, the risk of obesity among ninth graders increased by 5.2 percent.
With the number of obese adults in the United States expected to rise to 42% over the next twenty years, is it only a coincidence that we spend over one hundred billion dollars per year on fast food?
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