Nowadays, it became a commonplace tendency with many people in Western countries to become increasingly concerned about the possible consequences of their exposure to fast food. This state of affairs is perfectly explainable, because during the course of recent decades, the effects of a lengthened consumption of fast food on one’s health remained the subject of a number of heated public debates.
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In this paper, I will aim to substantiate the validity of an idea that people will indeed benefit from paying a closer attention to what they eat, while specifying what may be considered the main detrimental effects of one’s tendency to go about satisfying its hunger in fast food restaurants.
As of today, it became obvious to nutritionists that there is a strong link between fast food and obesity. In its turn, this can be explained by the fact that the traditional fast food items, such as hamburgers and French fries, contain an excessive amount of saturated fats.
According to Stender, Dyerberg and Astrup, “Fast food from major chains in most countries still contains unacceptably high levels of industrially produced trans-fatty acids (IP-TFA). IP-TFA have powerful biological effects and may contribute to increased weight gain and abdominal obesity” (887).
Therefore, there nothing particularly odd about the fact that people who overindulge in eating this type of food are very likely to end up becoming overweight – because saturated fats can never be thoroughly digested by one’s liver, they end up being ‘stored’ in different parts of the concerned individual’s body.
Consequently, these ‘stored’ fats cause him or her to grow out of shape. The fact that, as it was mentioned earlier, there is a dialectical link between fast food and obesity, explains why the visually observable concentration of overweight individuals appears being particularly high in fast food restaurants.
What provides people with an irresistible incentive to eat at fast food restaurant is the fact that, despite being rather unhealthy, fast food tastes good. To make things worse, it now became a widespread marketing practice in fast food restaurants to offer customers a choice to ‘supersize’ their meals. This, of course, cannot result in anything else but in facilitating the ‘epidemic of obesity’, which appears to affect more and more Westerners, as time goes on.
Another well-established effect of people’s overindulgence in eating fast food is the fact it substantially increases their susceptibility to heart attacks. The reason for this is quite apparent – fast food contains huge amounts of cholesterol, which in turn has been proven to cause the clogging of blood vessels.
According to Freeman, “Much fast food is deep-fried in partially hydrogenated oils (or trans fats), which lead to high cholesterol rates and heart attacks” (2225). By being exposed to fast food for a prolonged period, people simply cannot avoid accumulating cholesterol in their veins. The fact that, as of today, many fast food chains offer customers a choice to order meals with the reduced amount of cholesterol in them does not seem to be improving the situation.
After all, the foremost incentive that motivates people to consider dining at fast food restaurants is that, while being affordable, fast food meals are also rich in protein. This is the reason why the eating of even a single hamburger can well satisfy one’s hunger. Unfortunately, the fast food items’ richness in protein comes hand in hand with their richness in cholesterol. This is the reason why nutritionists strongly advice people to think twice, before they decide to eat at fast food restaurants.
Nevertheless, it would be wrong to suggest that the consumption of fast food is being only capable of affecting people’s health directly. Apparently, this consumption is also being capable of producing a number of negative psychological effects on people’s well-being, as well.
For example, there is nothing accidental about the fact that many fast food eaters are also known to lead physically inactive lifestyles, while being addicted to watching TV. As it was pointed out by Jeffery and French, “Energy intake and percentage of energy from fat are positively associated with TV viewing and fast food eating” (278).
This phenomenon can be easily explained. After having eaten a particular protein-rich fast food item, people are able to experience almost an instantaneous bellyfulness. In its turn, this causes them to grow sleepy and lazy – hence, prompting them to choose in favor of watching TV, as the most appropriate pursuit.
While indulging in this specific pursuit, however, people amplify the detrimental effects of their poor eating habits, because their physical inactiveness naturally speeds up the process of trans fats and cholesterol being ‘stored’ in their bodies. As a result, they grow progressively unhealthy.
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There is also another aspect to it – while continuing to inject their organisms with the earlier mentioned harmful substances people become addicted to them. Apparently, people’s exposure to the fast food’s very taste hypertrophies their hedonistic (pleasure-seeking) anxieties, which substantially undermine their ability to face life-challenges in a thoroughly responsible manner.
According to Yijun et al., “Overeating and obesity may have an acquired drive like drug addiction with respect to motivation and incentive” (133). In other words, it will be appropriate to suggest that people’s prolonged exposure to fast food is being capable of turning them into food-addicts. This is the reason why there is nothing unusual about the sights of individuals ordering multiple hamburgers at fast food restaurants, even though they could well satisfy their hunger with eating only one.
Such people’s behavior is nothing but a result of their continually increasing inability to remain in a full control of their animalistic urges. Therefore, it will not be much on an exaggeration, on my part, to suggest that fast food can well prompt its addicts to grow progressively deprived of their basic humanity, while being eventually turned into ‘human-hamburgers’ that can barely walk.
I believe that the earlier provided line of argumentation, as to what may be considered four detrimental effects of a fast food consumption on people’s health, is being thoroughly consistent with the initial thesis. It is fully understandable, of course, that due to the essence of socio-political dynamics in Western countries, which cause more and more people being unable to afford buying high-quality food, the phenomenon of fast food’s growing popularity is being objectively predetermined.
This, however, does not provide them with an excuse to stop paying attention to what they eat, and to grow increasingly addicted to devouring fat-saturated hamburgers and French fries – to say the least. Apparently, in order for individuals to be able to enjoy healthiness, they should not only be in a position to afford buying a high-quality food, but they should also be capable of exercising self-discipline over their hedonistic urges.
Freeman, Andrea. “Fast Food: Oppression Through Poor Nutrition.” California Law Review 95.6 (2007): 2221-2259. Print.
Jeffery, Robert and Simone French. “Epidemic Obesity in the United States: Are Fast Foods and Television Viewing Contributing?” American Journal of Public Health 88.2 (1998): 277-280. Print.
Stender, Sharon, John Dyerberg and Anthony Astrup. “Fast Food: Unfriendly and Unhealthy.” International Journal of Obesity 31.6 (2007): 887-890. Print.
Yijun, Liu et al. “Addiction and Obesity: Evidence from Bench to Bedside.” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 42.2 (2010): 133-145. Print.