Fast food’s dangerous spread
Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.
Some may have heard the term, “you are what you eat.” For many, this means they are walking salt-shakers filled to the brim with grease and preservatives.
In the documentary Super Size Me, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock ate only food from a fast food restaurant for 30 days to prove a point on an issue that faces college students on a daily basis. They should have taken a hint from his results, but it’s not likely. Though moviegoers were likely shocked to see Spurlock’s doctor’s diagnosis that he would die if he did not change his diet, they probably grabbed a burger on the way home.
Many know the gruesome effect that the fast food industry’s products will have on health in the long run, but most simply don’t care or choose to ignore it. Americans continue to spend millions of dollars a year on the same establishments that feed them the poison causing their hospital bills.
In his book Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser points out society’s dependence on fast food.
“(It) is now served at restaurants and drive-through, at stadiums, airports, zoos, high schools, elementary schools and universities, on cruise ships, trains and airplanes…at gas stations and even at hospital cafeterias.”
Schlosser points out that in the 1970s Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food per year. In the year 2000, that number had risen to more than $110 billion.
“Americans now spend more money on fast food than they do on higher education, personal computers, computer software or new cars,” Schlosser says in his book. “They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos and recorded music combined.”
Though the amount of money spent on fast food is still significantly less than on grocery store food, a study by the agricultural publication Amber Waves points out that the amount of money spent on food from restaurants, including fast food places, is on the rise, while the amount spent on food purchased from grocery stores for home use is slowly decreasing.
As obesity and cardiovascular problems run rampant, this shift in where money is spent in the United States should raise concern. Though fast food chains don’t kidnap people, their convenience and cheap prices lure many citizens who won’t stand up to the urge to splurge on a shake and instead try to eat a more healthy diet.
Though buying food at the grocery store can seem more expensive in a single trip, it saves money in the long run. There are a wide variety of foods to choose from, and it allows for more health-friendly choices. Going shopping and cooking at home instead of buying the nearest thing that smells like food, will put money in pockets and, most importantly, add years to a lot of lives.