Fast foods are not new phenomena; these are foods that are quickly prepared and served. It traced its origin in the US in the 1950s. In a typical setup, these foods are served in restaurants, and other food outlets close to the people. The ever growing popularity of such foods has been to blame on the laziness of the people (especially college students) who seem to prefer precooked meals to well cooked meals. These types of food are common among the children in the colleges, both local college students and international college students. These types of food include, desserts, hamburgers, chicken, French fries, soft drinks, coffee, and milkshakes.
Economically, it is confirmed that fast food businesses add up to the growth of the economy. This is because feeding and eating is one of the basic needs in human life for survival. Owing to this fact, many people opt for this business because of surety of success when everything as accounting, inventory management and customer service is handled appropriately. It has become a very competitive sector with some students with brighter futures dropping out of school for one reason or the other to start their own fast food restaurants. However, the above mentioned meals pose a huge threat to the human body especially to the main consumers who happen to be college students.
According to the Massachusetts Medical Society Committee on Nutrition, the body mass index, which is the weight-to-height ratio, calculated by dividing one's weight into kilograms by the square of one's height in meters and used as an indicator of obesity and underweight, id directly influenced to the amount of fast food/junk one takes.
The study was carried out in the year 2006 to prove this fact by scientists and nutritionist. They used monkeys since their metabolic rate is closest to humans. They were put on a diet of the same amount of fast foods a normal human being can take for a while. It was observed that the monkeys gained weight and developed signs of insulin resistance that indicated diabetes. That is proof enough of the dangers of high consumption of fast foods.
But, in as much as the students are aware of the possible health effects of these foods, they have continued to use them. In fact, the rate of consumption has increased over the years. Scientists and nutritionists have confirmed the dangers of these foods and have even warned the public against consuming them continuously, but, unfortunately, all that has been like singing to the deaf. They have warned that these foods have both long and short term effects, but it seems like many people have not taken them seriously. They have gone ahead to outline the health effects associated with these foods (Scholesser). In this work, I will look at the effects of fast foods for the college students both local student and international students.
Firstly, these foods affect our energy levels a great deal. Most of these foods have got a high sugar level; hence they greatly stress the rate of metabolic reactions leading to a general body weakness. Most of these fast foods do not have contained the nutrients required by human bodies for its growth and development and for the sake of keeping our bodies healthy (Insel, Ross and McMahon). They lack nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and mineral salts required by the body, hence lead to a drop in human body fatigue and stimulating a craving for sugar in the human body.
Obesity, a common health defect and common among colleges going students, has been proved to be another effect of fast foods. Scientists have been able to prove that most obese cases are a result of poor eating habits such as eating fast foods and not as it has been a perception that obesity is an inherited trait. The cases of inherited obesity are very minimal as compared to the bad eating habits cases. These foods contain fats which when accumulate in the body of an individual, can make one gain weight and become extremely and unhealthily fat. A medical condition referred to as obesity (Williams and Fruhbeck). The number of obese cases has increased especially in America especially among the college students as a result of consuming junk foods. Continuous gain of weight leads to the narrowing of blood vessels leading to serious illness known as high blood pressure as the veins will be unusually narrowed. Sodium, which is associated with these foods also have a negative impact on the renal function and can lead to kidney diseases for instance kidney failure or kidney stones (Williams and Fruhbeck).
Furthermore, being obese is expensive in terms of the money spent for related health effects as mentioned above. The economy is always struggling, and many people in the society are in debt. The more people spend on food, and eating out, the less money they have to pay for important things, such as house and car payments.
There are also short term health effects of this kind of foods, for example, fats (that is associated with fast foods) lead to poor psychological performance as an individual who has taken these foods will feel tired, hence unable to concentrate due to inadequate oxygen supply in the body and specifically to the brain (Williams and Fruhbeck). After taking such foods, many tend to feel tired and in class. They consequently affect their performance academically. The majority of students I talked to were able to accept that they know this has contributed to their poor performance in class but ‘we have no otherwise’.
Moreover, these foods can lead to a medical complication known as diabetes. This is a health condition caused by fluctuation of blood sugar level in the body. It is a high sugar and carbohydrate level in such foods that lead to this condition. Such foods lack the basic nutrients like proteins and carbohydrates needed by the body in maintaining a consistent blood sugar level, the blood sugar level will drop suddenly after eating such foods (Williams and Fruhbeck). After some time, the body will be stressed due to the condition; hence its ability to utilize insulin secreted by the pancreas will be damaged. Diabetic students are unable to concentrate fully in their studies as they spend most of their time seeking medical attention hence have little time for their schoolwork.
The heart and the liver are also human organs susceptible to damage as a result of continuous consumption of fast foods. High level of fats which, is usually associated with fast foods can because heart disease by increasing the cholesterol level in the blood and consequently building up plaque (Insel, Ross and McMahon). Nonetheless, fatty acids in such foods also lead to deposition of fats in the liver, and this can consequently lead to liver dysfunction.
Other short term effects of fast food may include constipation, which is a hardship of digestion, especially after eating leading to a feel of dizziness. Many students I interviewed accepted the fact that fast foods were a major reason they doze in class during tutors. This is as a result of the ‘sleepy’ feeling associated with fast foods. Mood swing has also been singled out as an effect of fast foods. They also have a tendency of making one feeling exhausted hence cannot be able to exercise to remove the excess calories in the body.
The majority of the students I was able to interview blamed lack of enough time to prepare well cooked food as a reason they opt for fast foods. They also said that the fact that they are readily available in the college and almost everywhere in the streets is another reason they are so much into the foods. Others went ahead to say that they will stop eating junk foods only when they seize to be sold in the school compound.
The administration of colleges should be able to come in and ban the sale of such foods in their respective colleges. It is only through this that they will be saving the lives of thousands of college students whose lives are currently in danger due to continuous consumption of these foods. They should instead promote the sale of properly cooked foods for their students. Also, having meals provided by the school dining halls can greatly reduce the number people going to look for food elsewhere. If the food cannot be provided for free, then it should be sold at a subsidized price so that students prefer it compared to fast food in terms of costs.
The business industry in America is the free industry where no one has a right to intimidate the other so long as he or she is engaging in a legal business. This has helped in improving the standards of living of the business people (Haskivtz). However, of great concern is whether one should venture into a business that put the lives of several students in danger just because there is a free enterprise system in USA. The sale of such foods in the colleges should be banned to save the lives of the students in the nation.
My opinion on this is that to some extent, the government should step in and come up with legislation restricting what should and what should not be sold to the public (especially to the college students) even if it means infringing on the people’s right to choice. It is the people who gave the government a mandate to work on their behalf hence they can use the same authority restored upon them by the people to enact laws that favors them (Insel, Ross and McMahon). The people should also work in hand with the government to ensure that the government protects them even if it means limiting some of their rights such as right to choice as witnessed above. Moreover, the government should also launch an awareness forum to ensure the awareness of the people on the effects of fast foods to the people’s health and to the economy at large as it will lose several young people of the working age due to the sale of this kind of food.
Nutritionists and scientists should continue creating awareness either by television talk shows, movies, conferences and so on to let the public know assuming they are ignorant in this issue. This is because not many people know that a normal person should be aware of the number of calories and the amount of fat and salt in the fast food which will help in making better choices. It is a good thing the government has ensured that many fast food restaurants have published the nutrient content of their products; hence, one can easily plan a convenient and healthy meal using the information provided.
Also, the suppliers of these fast food meals should put it upon themselves to serve the nation healthy meals. I believe there is a possibility of having healthier fast food meals, since it is close to impossible to eradicate fast foods. Less oil, less salt, less cholesterol, less meat and more vegetables, more natural oils like olive, groundnut oil etc. in fast foods can help the society live a longer life and it is also a win-win situation for vendors, government and the consumers. Suppliers/vendors/ the owners of the fast food restaurants should consider this during meal preparation.
Notice that most fast foods are wrapped in non-biodegradable papers or wrappers which litter the environment when not disposed-off properly. Many people eat and throw away the wrappers anyhow. A littered environment is not only an eyesore, but also a health hazard since germs are all over.
Once these can be solved once and for all, the government will be proud to boast for having a healthy bunch of college students. It is the students that will be in leadership positions in the future hence the need to care for the now so that the country can have healthy leaders in the future. Moreover, if no action is taken as soon as possible, there will be a shortage of children to take up future top jobs and to be able to apply whatever they learn in the colleges to help the government as most of them will lose their lives due to the complications that come with the continuous consumption of fast foods. The government should also educate the people on the importance of proper dieting especially to the young people. It should also make the public know the dangers that come with such foods.
If people would reduce or rather stop high dependence of fat foods and start fixing real meals back home by themselves, there would be more family time during dinner times like it was in the past. The tradition is slowly dying and families are growing apart because, it is during dinner that they would bond after a long day. Fast foods make people eat out and only come home to rest/sleep. A home cooked meal is not only healthy; it increases the family bond which is psychologically needed.
As much as the government and nutritionists/scientists have a lot to do, it’s up to an individual to make better choices when it comes to food. They should choose places that offer a variety of salads, soups, and vegetables. And in order to cub obesity, smaller sized portions of meals helps. An individual should consider splitting some fast food items to reduce the amount of calories and fat. Or even better, when one really insists on having fast food, to help supplement and balance a fast food meal, one has to make nutritious options such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and yogurt available as snacks.
Nutritionists have come up with strategies to help the individuals addicted to fast foods. First and foremost one should examine their eating habits clearly and probably come up with a timetable. He/she should also know how many times is a day or week he /she stops at the fast food restaurant and also, at what time of the day does she/he run to get some food. This is a first step to recovery and to know where how good or bad the situation is.
After one has observed and noted down the habit, acceptance is the next step. If you accept that you have a problem (addiction), it is much easier to deal with it. Without the knowledge, one cannot be helped. Some people stay dwell on denial hence their eating habits become worse and eventually depression sets in. With acceptance, one knows and decides that there are some meals that they should get rid off completely to live a healthy lifestyle.
Then, one should start investigating by adding up all the money spent on fast foods. This acts as an eye opener to see how much money goes to the unhealthy meals. The urge to consider saving will be there and one making meals at home may be a good option at this point. Examining also includes counting the number of calories consumed from the purchased meals and compare with the ones they ought to have consumed if they ate home-made meals. Also, it is at this point that one determined the kinds of food they are craving for. This could be caused by deficiency in vitamins or mineral from poor nutrition. Correct measures should be taken.
After this, planning a strategy to eliminate this habit is necessary. It can be done by first getting rid of all the fast foods in the house/office, looking for new joints which offer healthier meals, hooking up with friends with the same desire or who are already practicing this. And, during shopping, one should shop for exactly what they need and maybe, supplement it with fruits, yoghurts and other healthy supplements.
This should not only be done for a period; it should be maintained and developed into a habit. Carrying along a limited amount of healthy snacks and drinks will keep you from buying fast food since they will keep your hunger and craving at low levels. Eating healthy meals in smaller portions helps too. This can be done by developing the habit of making smaller purchases instead of buying large portions of products. It forces one to eat whatever is available and what is necessary.
Choosing what offers to respond to is necessary and important in this strategy. This is so common especially during buffet parties. Avoiding over indulgence is very rampant, and one needs to be choosy and careful. Finally, one should be faithful and stick to the whole plan for a successful outcome.
How the children are brought up may also sum up the fast food culture. While one is raising a child, she/he should ensure the child eats a balanced and healthy meal all the time. This creates a culture that is independent of fast food. Children do carry forward whatever they have been taught at a tender age all the way to their adulthood life. The children are the future generation hence should be handled with care.
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