During the last decades obesity has become one of the greatest concerns of the contemporary generation. With a rapid development of fast food industry, the mankind has become obsessed with eating fast, with simply bulking food in, what is actually resulting in serious problems right now. The United States of America have already proved to be the ‘fattest’ country worldwide, especially when it comes to children. Moreover, not only do people start to face the problem of massive obesity, but they seem to be doing nothing to struggle and fight the disease. The number of obese American children and teenagers has more than doubled in the past decade; two-thirds of the adults are overweight or obese; and the worst is at least 300,000 Americans die every year from obesity-related diseases. (Greenblatt) Thus, it seems that the people have found themselves in a tight corner: on the one hand they do understand that fast food is killing them, at the same time, it has captured their minds and stomachs with such strong power that it seems to have no way out.
Undoubtedly, it has become more than obvious that the generation has become obese. But why have people become so fat for the last decades? What is the real reason of the problem? The world has changed a lot: a hectic life has completely ‘bulked people’ in, making them rush all the time and in each and everything. People have lost the sense of time, at the same time they have forgotten what it is to have a calm and normal life. As a result, ingenious marketers and sharks of business decided to ‘help’ people solve the problem. Fast food chains have become a cheap and fast way to satiate the body; originally it was targeted at “heavy users, mostly young, single males, who ate at such restaurants as often as 20 times a month.” (Brownlee) The idea is that this very category was originally not aimed at high quality food, as it is expensive, and home food, as living alone does not give them any stimulus for cooking, neither are they interested in the taste, as they need food for simple satiation. (Brownlee) Their main aspect is the price of food, so the Taco Bell decided to take a crucial step: they reduced their prices, making them well below its competitors. The decision was more than correct – an increase in sales was immense. Low price boosted people to buy more, so “Taco Bell’s rising sales figures – up 14 percent by 1989 and 12 percent more the next year.” (Brownlee) It was real success, as it turned out that marketers managed to increase their sales simply working on people’s greediness.
However, with rapidly developing fast food industry and increase in offer, low price has become not sufficient for competiveness. Almost all the fast food chains decreased their prices to minimum, so that marketers had to invest something new to interest their consumers. The solution was found quickly, and it was the one, which finally pushed the generation to the edge of obesity. Super-sizing – it was ingenious, as people were offered such a bargain – to pay less and get more! Even if a person is not willing to have a bigger portion, he takes it anyway, as it is so cheap to supersize it. (Brownlee)
As a result, people have stopped controlling themselves, their ration, consumption of food, let alone bothering about the quality. The result is obvious nowadays. Nonetheless, these are not the only reasons which made the world and the USA in particular, gain weight so rapidly. Another reason is “cornification” (Pollan), which has overwhelmed the United States enormously. Corn is one of the most popular, if it may be said so, plants in America, it has the largest territories of cultivation and its production has the greatest benefits. Not only was grown of corn stimulated by President Bush by signing a bill, under which taxpayers are obliged to pay farmers $4 billion a year to grow more corn (Pollan), Congress has resolved to subsidize it as well. The explanation for such ‘corn panic’ is more than simple: soft drink and snack makers, factory farms and processors are fully and entirely dependable on cheap corn.
As a result, what do we have? Due to its low price, all the animals we consume, chickens, pigs, cows, even salmon, are on a corn diet, irrespective of the result it causes. Moreover, after development of high-fructose corn syrup, sugar has been simply pushed out: the majority of soft drinks producers as well as snack makers have substituted sugar for high-fructose corn syrup. As a result, “Nearly 10 percent of the calories Americans consume now come from corn sweeteners; the figure is 20 percent for many children.” (Pollan) The figures are really shocking. And again, the producers did not reduce their prices due to cheap corn, they super-sized all their products, pushing the generation to the edge of obesity again. Moreover, it has been proved that high-fructose corn syrup is potentially more harmful, as it is metabolized differently than other sugars. According to Pollan, under a recent study, it has been proved that high fructose diet in comparison to glucose elevates triglyceride levels in men right after eating.
Undoubtedly, all these factors do not but affect first and foremost our children. According to the Center for Public Health Advocacy 26 percent of schoolchildren are overweight. (Weintraub) That’s unbelievable! People are creating a generation of fat people themselves, starting from homes. Children keep on spending all their free time either watching TV or playing computer games, what results in immobility. It is obvious that under conditions we have nowadays, women as well as men just have to work, as a result, children run wild. The easiest way is to let the child eat fast food, as not only is it tasty for them due to a number of additives, but also very fast and cheap. Almost ten years ago, David Satcher issued a ‘call to action’ about America's obesity epidemic, stating that “so many young people now contract Type 2 diabetes, which is actually caused by obesity that it could no longer be called by its old moniker of ‘adult-onset’ diabetes”. (Greenblatt) Indeed, children have become too obese due to their unwillingness to lead an active way of life. But indeed, it is not only their laziness to be blamed for overweight, but suppliers of fast food as well: the schools have welcomed sodas and snacks, which prevail over normal food at the campus, so that students have an unlimited and very easy access to their obesity. (Greenblatt) The Center for Public Health Advocacy is blaming increase in fast food consumption, its easy availability, advertisement and lack of sports at school. Nonetheless, the main reason for unhealthy food is neither government nor fast food, but parents. It is up to parents to take after their children, feeding them with healthy home-made food, it is up to parents to make their children understand and realize that fast food and snacks do not but lead to irreversible consequences, and finally, it is up to parents to be confident that their children are healthy.
It is obvious that laziness has made people hostages of their obesity. The most frightening is that overweight leads to very serious diseases, such as heart disease and stroke to arthritis and breathing problems, so that annually $117 billion are spent to cope with the problem. (Greenblatt) If people and children in particular started to steer clear of fast food and other genetically modified organisms and go in for sports, we may still have healthy successors. Only if we start thinking now about ourselves and our children, we will be able to bring up healthy generation and be confident in the future, otherwise, it may be too late to be sorry.
Brownlee, Shannon. “It’s portion distortion that makes America fat.” The Sacramento Bee. 5 Jan. 2003. 24 Nov. 2010. http://www.csupomona.edu/~uwc/pdf/RChingItsPortionDistortion-numpara.pdf
Greenblatt, Alan. “Can Americans change their self-destructive habits?” Obesity Epidemic 13.4 (2003).
Pollan, Michael. “When a Crop Becomes King.” New York Times. 19 Jul. 2002. 24 Nov. 2010. http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/when-a-crop-becomes-king/
Weintraub, Daniel. “The battle against fast food begins in the home.” The Sacramento Bee. 17 Dec. 2002. 24 Nov. 2010. http://msmaxwell.weebly.com/uploads/4/3/9/1/4391585/battle-begins-in-the-home.pdf