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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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A rise in the prevalence of obesity has been a concern and is considered a public health epidemic due to the cause of many different health problems. According to an article written by Marlow and Shiers, “In 2007-2008, the prevalence of obesity was 32.2% among adult men, and 35.5 % among adult women.” (1633) Marlow and Shiers decided to examine the link between fast food and obesity by examining data on every state in the United States over the span of 2001-2009. According to a previous research done by Anderson and Matsa (2011) was found that causal link between consumption of restaurant foods and obesity is minimal at best. “Restaurant access, as measured by distance to the nearest restaurant, and consumption of restaurant food exerted no significant effects on obesity. The endogeneity issue was addressed by using distance from freeways as an instrument for fast food availability. Analyses of food intake data revealed that, although restaurant meals were associated with greater caloric intake, additional calories were mostly offset by reductions in eating throughout the rest of the day. They also found that individuals that frequented restaurants also ate more while at home and that, when eating at home, obese individuals consumed roughly 30% of their calories from ‘junk food' such as ice cream, processed cheese, bacon, baked sweets, fries, candies, soft drinks and beer. (Marlow and Shiers, 1634) Anderson and Mata are implying the accessibility of fast food restaurants shows no significant effect on obesity. It was implied that although a person who consumes food intakes at a restaurant which also consumes higher caloric intake, those additional calories were offset by reducing the amount of food eaten throughout the rest of the day. Anderson and Mata also implied an obese individual consumes roughly 30 % of their calories from ‘junk food', and from research concluded by research, if attempts to reduce fast food were to take place, it may lead the obese individual to substitute fast foods with others. In conclusion, the consumption of restaurant foods and obesity remains unclear and isn't a significant factor behind the prevalence of overweight US citizens between 2001-2009.

In July 2003, the United States National Chamber of Commerce published a report and said, “This study finds that fast food restaurants are not a chief culprit in the fattening of America.” (Brownell, 132) Brownell wrote this article in concern of the statement published by the US National Chamber of Commerce because fast food companies are involved in the chamber of commerce spread throughout the United States with the board of director executives from Coca-Cola and Pepsi Co which raises a red flag. Brownell had concerns and done extensive research on the relationship between fast food and obesity in children. According to the research done by Bowman et al, and using the comparison in nationally representative data from 6212 children and adolescents, resulting in 30.3% of children eat fast food on a given day, and on days which children eat fast food, their calorie intake is an additional 187 k Calorie. Also, a study with younger adults found that many whites eating fast food more than twice per week are reflected towards the 86 % increased risk of being obese. (132) Brownell is conveying to readers based on her research the shocking number of children that consume fast food with just over three tenths, which sustains an extra 187 kilocalories. She is inferring the claims by these fast food industries are trying to “cast themselves as victims of food activism and decry attempts to curb business as usual.” (132) In conclusion, it does seem the claim the United States National Chamber of Commerce is not accurate and can hurt children and increase the chance of obesity with consumption of fast food.

According to a report by the US Federal Trade Commission in 2012, the food industry spent approximately $1.8 billion in food and beverage marketing to just children and adolescents, resulting in exposing adolescents to an average of 17 food advertisements per day. From previous research and studies concluded food advertising on television does influence food choices sparking the debate on the association between food advertising and obesity. (McClure et al 560) McClure et al hypothesized that higher receptivity to fast food advertising is correlated with higher risk of obesity. The research was conducted with 3342 randomly recruited participants from fall 2010 to spring 2011, and consist of attempting a web-based survey using cued recall methods which measures their receptivity toward the fast food advertisements. (561) It resulted in 16% obese, 20% weighed, and accessed youth receptivity to television advertising and found a direct association with obesity. (565) The study conducted found that differences in response to food images were predictive of weight gain, therefore suggesting heightened reward responsiveness to food cues is associated with overeating. (566) Also within the topic in another study, obese children viewing food logos show less cognitive control suggesting marketing vulnerability, and correlates with the work that links overweight individuals with responsiveness to food marketing. (566) Based upon the research, McClure et al are implying from their results which they sought from their research that the relationship between TV fast food advertising and obesity are correlated with each other, and data can infer chances of obesity. They also imply an individual who views fast food pictures use a less cognitive control in their brain and simply blurs out the name of the fast food, therefore reveals their knowledge on fast food, and may implicate the amount of fast food they eat. The study concluded the receptivity to fast food advertisement is a concern that plays into the risk of obesity for Americans.

Aside from the United States, the growing obesity epidemic is a concern worldwide. It was deemed during 2008 at England, a total of 14.4% boys and 13.3% of girls aged 11-15 years were classified as obese. (Fraser et al, 2012) Fraser et al, conducted a research using a cohort of teenagers from the United Kingdom to access the relationship between fast food outlet access and consumption. The identification of the fast food outlets was collected from the Ordnance Survey database, a collation of more than 150 sources proven with 81-100% accuracy. (e78) In the area where the study is taken place is an affluent region, while in comparison with rest of England shows opposite relationships between accessibility and consumption, and differs in terms of deprivation status such as the rural area in the southwest region and the more urban area in the north of the city. “The rural area to the southwest of the study region with the positive association is for the most part not deprived, although it is close to the deprived town of Weston- Super-Mare. The area in the north of the city of Bristol with the negative association (i.e., higher access, lower consumption) is more urban and densely populated, with higher deprivation.” (e82) “The data available on consumption were collected as the frequency of visits to fast-food outlets, but there were no data on the actual foods consumed within the outlets. Many outlets now offer healthier alternatives such as salads and milk. From a public health perspective, the current study highlights the continued need for nutritional education regarding fast food, but it also indicates that public health interventions that place restrictions on the location of fast-food outlets may or may not decrease consumption.” (e84) Fraser et al conducted research and found that though there are data on the frequency of visits there isn't clear data to conclude because there are no data on the consumption of foods eaten in these fast food outlets. The research also implies the need for nutritional education is needed, but placing restrictions on fast food locations don't provide significant evidence on whether a customer will increase or decrease consumption. Fraser et al concluded in his research and found restrictions to the fast food outlet may not decrease consumption and may have a relationship towards the urban/rural area where accessibility is due to the accessibility of consumption and in other cases a lack of.

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