According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), More Than One-Third




22 November 2016

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), “more than one-third of adults and 17% of youth in the United States were obese in 2011–2014. From 1999 through 2014, obesity prevalence increased among adults and youth” (CDC). The public debate regarding obesity often relates to the widespread availability of processed and fast foods as a major contributing factor influencing the widespread increase of obesity. Many individuals enjoy a plethora of modern day luxuries, ranging from microwaves, smart houses with automatic lights, electric shavers, smart televisions, remote control start cars, cupcake machines, etc. Furthermore, these technological innovations create a society of convenience, where individuals save time and energy. Some individuals say it’s a wonderful life, while others disagree. While today's modern luxuries have been welcomed by the masses, they have been accused of transforming us into passive, lethargic, couch potatoes. An article written by Harvard University stated, “in 2010, 36 states had obesity rates of 25 percent or higher, and 12 of those had obesity rates of 30 percent or higher” (Harvard). An unhealthy diet creates feelings of sluggishness and apathy. Processed and fast foods are the lowest priced foods man can purchase, however, they are not the healthiest of foods. Humans are led to believe that processed and fast foods are beneficial for the body, when in fact, they are only harmful and toxic to an individual’s body, and, the need to reveal this and the beneficial impact of healthy organic foods are imperative.

The fast food industry in the modern world today is a growing business, A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition defined fast food as a “general term used for a limited menu of foods that lend themselves to production-line techniques; suppliers tend to specialize in products such as hamburgers, pizzas, chicken, or sandwiches”(Bender). These food items are made of processed foods, which is any deliberate modification in a food that transpires before it’s presented to eat. Food critics of fast food items have revealed information on individuals who frequently visit fast food chains to be lazier and less active than other individuals who consume home prepared meals, these individuals are more proactive and energetic. These critics also pointed out several reasons why fast food may be less healthy than other types of restaurant foods; these include capital, time, cost, and signature dishes. One of the first fast food chains to emerge was White Castle, founded by insurance business partner Edgar Waldo “Billy” Ingram and Walter Anderson who at the time ran three small burger stands in Wichita, Kansas in 1921. The shape of the restaurant was similar to a castle and painted white on the outside to represent cleanliness to their customers, the inside was stainless steel and the employees were required to wear stain- free uniforms and look well groomed. The company had locations in most major Midwest cities and several in the Mid-Atlantic region, including New Jersey and New York by the end of the decade. During the 1920s Ingram and Anderson took special care to ensure that each meal a customer received at any location was as identical as possible, this was accomplished with the use of the White Castle System. This system gave an organized plan to the cooks of each location on how to create these identical burgers, with the use of the same recipe and assembly line. The assembly line technique helped create the fast food industry as we know it. The early popularity of White Castle spawned several imitations, several did not prove to be much competition, however, McDonald's and other chains emerged. McDonald’s began as a small hamburger stand in San Bernardino, Californian by two brothers, Maurice “Mac” and Dick McDonald in 1940 named McDonald’s Bar-B-Q. It was later shut down and reopened in 1948 with a menu containing nine items. In 1954 Ray Kroc businessmen from Illinois convinced the McDonalds brothers to provide him rights to their business. He attained these franchise rights in 1955 and opened the first McDonalds franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Fast food is exceedingly processed with a wide assortment of additives. To guarantee fast foods low price, the products are prepared with processed ingredients to give it shelf-life, to hold consistency, and to enhance flavor. Fast foods are transformed from their original healthy form. Processed foods are causing harm to human health. They are the main reason people all over the world are becoming overweight and ill. This is clearly shown when a population adopts a “western” diet. These foods contain thousands of additives, five of the worst are high- fructose corn syrup, synthetic trans fats, artificial sweeteners, MSG (monosodium glutamate) and GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). Many of these additives such as GMOs are legal in the United States made food, but are banned in other countries because of health concerns. A few of these countries are; Algeria, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, and the UK. The Non-GMO Project defines genetically modified organisms as, “a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified using recombinant DNA methods (also called gene splicing), gene modification or transgenic technology” (Non-GMO Project). GMOs are connected to disease and illnesses like heart disease, obesity, cancer, and many more. According to SustainableTable, “In an attempt to feed more people in an easier and more productive way, food has become food “products” full of chemicals, not real food. This denatured food contributes to diseases that are shortening the human lifespan for the first time ever” (How Industrial Food Impacts Your Health). Researchers have proven numerous times that GMOs can cause infertility, gastrointestinal disorders, organ damage, accelerated aging, and immune system disorders. Since GMOs have existed in foods since 1996 food allergies have increased, along with digestive problems, reproductive issues, autism, and other disorders. One of the most popular additives MSG, is a salt of the amino acid Glutamic Acid, it is used as a flavor enhancer used commonly in Chinese food, soups, canned vegetables, and processed meats. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) requires labeling of MSG and says that it is recognized as being safe. However, the FDA has received numerous reports of reactions to foods containing MSG. These reactions include headache, flushing, sweating, numbness or tingling, heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea, and weakness. Studies demonstrate that the chemical additives lead to disease and weight issues. Fast food restaurants that food contains MSG’s are McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, and Taco Bell. Fast food can be healthy, however, most often it can be considered junk. Fast foods may also contain contaminants of unknown long-term safety. Most salt is hidden in processed foods, including cheese, cereal, pasta sauces, salad dressings, condiments and bread, restaurant meals and especially fast food. Studies clearly show that salt raises blood pressure and cutting down on salt can lower a person’s blood pressure. High blood pressure damages blood vessels and can lead to a stroke, kidney failure, and heart failure. The average American consumes more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day. That is more than the amount that should be consumed, which is no more than 2,300 milligrams (approximately one teaspoon of salt). Individuals with high blood pressure should not consume more than 1,500 milligrams per day. Sugar is a sweet crystalline substance obtained from various plants, especially sugar cane and sugar beet, consisting essentially of sucrose, and used as a sweetener in food and drinks. Whether natural or processed, all sugar is used for energy by the human body. Vegetables, fruits, and dairy products naturally contain sugar. Energy and sports drinks, desserts, sodas and many other food items contain added sugars, which are sugars and syrups added to foods. Consuming too many food items containing added sugar can cause potential health problems, such as poor nutrition, weight gain, increased triglycerides, and tooth decay. The American Heart Association advises a strict limit on added sugars, “no more than 100 calories a day for most women and no more than 150 calories a day for most men”(Mayo Clinic). In simple terms, women should have no more than six teaspoons and men no more than nine of added sugar. A single teaspoon of sugar is a total of sixteen calories. Obesity has rapidly increased over the years in the United States since the mid- 1970s in conjunction with an amplified number of fast food restaurants. Evidence is emerging that implies sugar could be the main cause of obesity and several of obesity-related health conditions.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), “the estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight” (CDC). Obesity is an intricate disorder concerning an excessive amount of body fat. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “processed foods are to blame for the sharp rise in obesity levels and chronic disease around the globe” (BBC News). Fast food and processed foods are causing an epidemic of obesity. This epidemic is causing other health related epidemics, such as type two diabetes, high blood cholesterol levels, liver and gallbladder disease, and heart conditions. A man with extra weight has a greater chance of having a heart attack than another with a level of weight that is considered healthy. It is not simply the extra weight, which processed foods and fast foods eaters carry, that is a hazard, but as research shows, “eating too many high- fat foods contributes to high blood cholesterol levels. This can cause hardening of the arteries, coronary heart disease and stroke” (Fast Food Facts). Restaurants that contain fast food items have a high fat concentrated menu. It is unknown exactly why fast food is related to these diseases, but it is most likely due to the excess amounts of fats, sodium, cholesterol, sugars, and their metabolic toxins, and contaminants. Fast food often contains contaminants and filth because of the methods the food is grown, handled, killed, prepared, packaged, or processed. Fast food contaminants may include heterocyclic amines, antibiotics, rancid and trans fats, E. coli, salmonella, preservatives, glycated proteins, animal feces, dyes, fillers, animal viruses and prions, and added hormones. In the United States, most of the beef used for consumption contains added synthetic hormones. Economic studies have established an emphasis on the increase of calorie consumption as one of the primary elements of obesity which is consistent with the increased availability of the fast food industry. Fast food restaurants are convenient and located just about everywhere, near an individual’s home, school or job. Harvard University stated, “obesity and its causes have, in many ways, become woven into the fabric of our society. To successfully disentangle them will take a multifaceted approach that not only gives individuals the skills to make healthier choices but also sets in place policy and infrastructure that support those choices” (Harvard).

Consuming healthy foods is not about strict nutritional philosophies, remaining unrealistically skinny, or depriving an individual of the types of foods they love. It is about feeling good, having energy, keeping the human body as healthy as possible, and stabilizing their mood. Healthy food is important for the body from the moment a person is conceived. As a baby, we humans grow rapidly and this is partly due to the foods we consume. All foods contain nutrients that provide us with fuel to live our lives, and the substance to build our organs, bones, tissues, and muscles. Not consuming enough of one nutrient or another can cause a variety of problems for the body, including stunting growth and cognitive development. If an individual does not eat healthy they may feel weak or sluggish. Energy providing nutrients, such as carbohydrates and fats, along with the correct nutrients are required for organs to correctly do their jobs. Hormones and several other substances in the body assist with making sure everything is functioning accurately. If the correct nutrients are not consumed the body can have difficulties generating these hormones. Healthy eating is also important in preventing illness. By consuming the correct nutrients the body can defend against viruses, bacteria and a number of other conditions, including diabetes, stroke, heart disease, cancer, asthma, high blood pressure, and dental cavities. Healthy food access has been acknowledged by national associations and agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Heart Association (AHA), and the Institute of Medicine (IOM). It is believed that the closer an individual lives to a healthy food retail location the better their eating routines will be and the risk for obesity and diet-related disease will decrease. This type of retail stimulates economic activity. The economic influences of a supermarket or grocery store in a community area are not limited to only occupations and income earned. The value of a house, for example, increase with enhanced accessibility to neighborhood retail. Without healthy food, exercise, and water, the human body cannot function properly on a day-to-day basis.

In conclusion, processed foods and the fast food industry, which began long ago, has drastically changed. These industries have been branded by their lack of attention to food quality and nutrition. The demand of processed and fast foods is increasing frequently, and therefore solutions must be developed to meet these demands. It is time for food corporations to acknowledge the ramifications of marketing unhealthy foods. It is established that fast foods and processed foods have a direct influence on obesity, and as such it is imperative to oppose the development of unhealthy and traditional foods. These findings add new evidence to the debate about the impact of processed and fast foods on obesity by providing credible evidence on the magnitudes of these foods. Although, several inquiries remain unanswered by this research. The general public should be provided with sufficient information on which foods are best for one’s health. To maintain a healthy weight, it is important to balance calorie intake with regular physical activity. Though processed foods and fast foods are easy to obtain and are inexpensive, endangering a life for something that tastes good and is low-priced is not worth the cost. Individuals should consume healthy foods and make good choices when determining what to consume.