World History I H
06 June 2018
Fast Food… Improving or Hindering Society?
In 1921, Walter Anderson and Edgar Ingram had created one of the world's largest industries. Together, they had co founded White Castle, a restaurant that sold take-out burgers, Coca-cola, pies, and coffee. Little did they know that they had created the first fast food restaurant out of many to come. Fast food restaurants mainly serve quickly prepared food, hence the name fast food. By 1930, thousands of fast food restaurants had opened up to build off of the success seen in White Castle. Due to this sharp influx of profit from fast food restaurants, popular fast food chains were able to internationalize their businesses, spreading their influence around the world.
Fast food had revolutionized the food industry in only a matter of 70 years. One of the largest selling points of this industry was the fact that it was so convenient. Customers could walk in and leave with a juicy burger and french fries in only a matter of five minutes. Glenn Collins, a New York Times author, had written that “people often go to a fast food restaurant on impulse”, rather than typical restaurants where the customer would typically plan to go there. Another reason why the fast food industry had blown up in the way that it did was because it had directly marketed towards children. For example, they would often give away prizes and toys, and host contests where the customer could gain points by ordering more and more food. By doing so, these children, often being stubborn, would try and push their parents into these businesses. Another advantage to marketing to children is that the business then creates lifelong consumers that are more likely to pass on their tradition to future generations, ensuring the chain business. Thirdly, the food at these restaurants were very delectable as New York Times wrote “McDonald's french fries are a consumer favorite”. The wild success of fast food had not only influenced the food industry, but had become a large part of modern pop culture.
Despite all the positive effects that have seen to come with the creation of fast food, there is one major negative. As the number of fast food restaurants rise, the amount of health-related issues rise associated with fast food rise. Since fast food's creation, over 500,000 restaurants have opened across the globe (Ransohoff). For example, in China, fast food has completely transformed their people's lifestyle. Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald's have become very prominent in Chinese society and have since been adapting the people's wants, making their food faster and easier to access. This has caused a sharp increase in China's obesity as in Beijing, China's capital, “27.8% of children surpass the standard weight guidelines”. With the obesity rate of male students reaching 15%, which is double the amount in 1990 (Cheng). The amount of hypertensive patients exceeds over 100,000,000, about 10% of the Chinese population. In addition, the amount of hypertensive patients in China seems to be rising by 2.5% each year, which is “undoubtedly the result of high sodium content contained in fast food” (Cheng). In Taiwan, China's neighbor, a paper was written to examine the results of fast food and soft drink consumption on children's overweight by using nationwide survey data. Unsurprisingly, they had found that intaking more fast food and soft drink correlated to an increased risk of overweight. Similarly in India, a study was done on a school in the urban area of Sikkim, where they had found they had calculated the prevalence of obesity, overweightness, and hypertension, each being 2.04%, 14.5%, and 5.62% respectively. These increases in health issues had been strongly correlated with an increase in the consumption of fast food and the limited amount of physical activity (Kar, Khandelwal). Fast food has also been able to reach Nigeria, plaguing it with obesity as well. In a study done to discover the cause of this newly emerging problem, the proximity to fast food outlets was the “only significant factor driving the spatial pattern of obesity” (Osayomi, Orhire).
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