Obesity Has Established Itself
Obesity has established itself as one of the fastest growing diseases in the nation and continues to make a substantial impact on the general population today. The sheer number of individuals who can be classified as obese in the U.S. has made obesity synonymous with the identity of an American. Dietitians and Psychologists have argued over the various causes as to why the number of Obesity is rising so much in American people. However undeniably, the fast food industry and its alluring advertisements is a major cause of Obesity in America.
Obesity is a condition in which the body accumulates an abnormally large amount of adipose tissue, or fat (DeAngelo et al.). The concept of what qualifies an individual to be obese has been skewed by the media. Shows, such as My 600-lb Life and The Biggest Loser, portray individuals who are exceptionally obese as a standard example of an obese individual. Obesity is identified using the Body Mass Index (BMI), the measurement of a person using weight in relation to height. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to be considered obese an individual must have a BMI of 30 or over.
That means that an individual with a height of 5'9 and weight of 203 lbs. or more is considered obese. Thus, proving that obesity is much more feasible for individuals in America than one many think. About 38 percent of American adults were obese in 2013 and 2014, up from 35 percent in 2011 and 2012 (Tavernise).
Food has always been a key signifier of what a culture may value. The preparation, ingredients, and customs that revolve around food are all fundamental in the examination of any group of people. As a result, what people choose to eat can reveal where their priorities lie and what sort of lifestyle they have. Quintessential examples of fast food, such as hamburgers, hotdogs, french-fries, and friend chicken, have become associated as standard American foods.
The fast food industry's popularity continues to grow and plays a pivotal role in the development of American identity. Over the past decade the industry has grown rapidly into a multibillion-dollar business. According to the International Business Times, in 2012, the total revenue generated by the fast food industry totaled $195.19 billion (International Business Times).
Fast food is loved for its convenience, affordable prices, and taste. Before the industry came to be, people were restricted in how they could satisfy their hunger because of the length of time required to cook and prepare a meal. People now have more convenient options because of the availability of fast food. The fast food industry has provided ways for people to shorten the time required to make and consume meals while being especially ideal for those in automobiles. This emphasis on speed fits perfectly into contemporary American life.
The major drawback of fast food is its nutritional value. Fast foods tend to be highly processed, full of added sugars, salt, saturated fats, or trans fats. For perspective, based on the McDonald's website the nutrition value of a Big Mac with large fries and a large Coke contains 1,330 calories, 52 g of fat, 1,360mg of sodium.
The U.S. dietary guidelines generally recommend individuals consume no more than 2,000 calories, 65 grams of fat, and 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day (America's Best & Worst Fast Food). Based off this, that means from one meal from McDonalds an individual is getting 66.5% of the daily caloric intake, 80% of the daily fat intake, and 59.1% of the daily sodium intake. If the individual decides to eat a fast food restaurant more than once a day, they will more than likely surpass their dietary guidelines. It is much easier to over eat in America
A crucial component to the escalation of the fast food industry is advertising. The constant exposure to advertisements has compelled millions of Americans to love fast food using various tactics such as, key words, repetition, claims, association, bandwagon, and promotions. Who wouldn't want a delicious and delectable cheeseburger for the low price of $1 at your local McDonalds. Additionally, advertisements made by fast food promote an image of happiness with friends and families spending time together. People believe, or want to believe, that they will be happy when they purchase the food because the actors appear content. There are no overweight people in fast food ads; actors are in shape and smiling.
Obesity was bound to become a part of America's identity. America's cultural values, efficiency, capitalism, etc., with the creation of fast food was a recipe for success. Americans fell in love with the concept and how they could alleviate another nuisance from their daily lives, the stress of cooking. The promise of a cheap and quick meal was too good, and nobody wanted to question it. However, as of recent years Americans are becoming more health and nutrition conscious, but only after 38% of the population has been classified as obese. Fast food is not the only cause of obesity, other factors such as, lack of physical activity, nutrition education, medical history, mental illnesses, and much more are also responsible. Nevertheless, fast food and its advertising are rooted to the cause of America's identity as obese.