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December 27, 2012

Essay on Fast Food

All such food is categorized as fast food which can be prepared and served quickly. Restaurants and kiosks provide fast food with precooked or preheated ingredients and usually served at a packaged form (Pollan, 2009). In the beginning, American hamburger and fries was considered as the traditional fast food but now the field has been widely diversified and food like pizzas, fish and chips, burgers from McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken etc. are all considered fast food.
Fast food market has shown an enormous and steady growth. In 2006 alone the market has reached to $102.4 billion with an annual growth rate of 4.8% (Adams, 2007). Fast food chains like McDonalds operate in more than 126 countries in six continents having more than 31,000 restaurants globally (Arndt, 2007).  Burger King, another worldwide fast food chain, has operations in more than 65 countries of the world; KFC restaurants located over 25 countries, Subways is present in 90 countries with total 39,129 restaurants and so and so forth (Buthrie, Lin & Frazao, 2002). However, according to most of researches, fast food is not at all fit for health and can cause serious problems. According to Marion Nestle, Chair of New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, “the increased calories in American diets come from eating more food in general, but especially more of foods high in fat (meat, dairy, fried foods, grain dishes with added fat), sugar (soft drinks, juice drinks, desserts), and salt (snack foods)” (Nestle, 2002; p. 10). This report discusses some positive as well as negative points of taking fast food.
Reasons for popularity
Before delving into the positive and negative aspects of fast food, it seems appropriate if we discuss the reasons of fast food  popularity.
The question is what compels the Americans to eat such poorly balanced food? The answer of the question is not simple and involves many factors. First of all, every culture has its own values, philosophies, and the way to react to the things occurring in their lives. These reactions depend upon the culture they belong too. In present family structure and busy life it has been observed that the increasing communication deficit between parents and children has created a gulf between parents and children. This changed life style, especially in low-income and single-parent families, has compelled the children to take unhealthy and junk food more often than required (Ritzer, 2000).
Advertising also played a major role in increasing the fast food popularity in America. According to National Cancer Institute, “Commercial advertisers have learned that a consistent and prominent presence in the marketplace is key to achieving and holding market share” (National Cancer Institute, 2000). Statistics revealed that in 2004 the total expenditure of different food items including fast food restaurants was approximately $11.26 billion. 
Fast food advertisers target ethnic minorities directly through their own media outlets and programs. Food items which are advertised for ethnic minorities are usually unbalanced and unhealthy as compared to the food advertised for general audience (Reyes, 2005). Research conducted in 2005 depicted that more than 52 percent of food items advertisement published in Hispanic fashion and social magazines were advertised unhealthy and unbalanced food as compared to 29 percent such advertisements published in general magazines (Duerksen et. al., 2005).
Fast food items advertising usually target children in order to create and establish brand loyalty at an early age (Wiecha et al., 2006). Among the six brands which have enjoyed very strong recognition in children, four are related to food, i.e. Cheerios, McDonald’s, Pop-Tarts, and Coke (Comiteau, 2003). These companies relied on the fact that the children would emotionally connected to these companies even in their adulthood (Comiteau, 2003). Nevertheless, recent research shows that consumers prefer to buy fast food from supermarkets. Because they have the perception that supermarkets provide healthier food options ( Advertising and marketing very significantly influence the buying behavior of people and the notion cannot be rejected in totality that frequent use of this unhealthy food is a major cause of increasing obesity. According to a study, television advertisements and television viewing is directly associated with popularity of junk food (Bowman et al., 2004).
Advantages of using fast food
The basic and most obvious advantage of fast food is its cost and speed. Fast food is very easy and quick to prepare and serve. As discussed above, the number of single parent household is continuously increasing in United States. Such single parents not only have to work to earn a respectable living but also have to prepare food for the family. For such persons fast food is an easy and cost effective solution.
Fast food not only prepared at home easily but can also be ordered from fast food restaurants which usually have special offers and deals available to make it cheaper or more cost effective.  
Fast food comprises and enjoys the biggest chunk of food industry. It has, in United States alone, sale of $120 billion with the help of more than 200,000 restaurants. Fast food industry has been very successful in term of operation expansion by utilizing international franchising. The administration of different fast food companies have learned by the passage of time how to make the most of the sales potential of a fast food franchise by practically adopting an idea by giving it a functional methodology. This is one main cause why fast food franchises have been a symbol of success among the contemporary food businesses. Fast food industry gives minimal wages and financial benefits to their workers (McDonald’s Australia); nevertheless, it provides jobs to approximately 3.5 million people.
Disadvantages of Fast Food
The major and the biggest drawback of fast food is that it is unhealthy and cause serious health problems. It has often been blamed by many that fast food is chiefly responsible for increasing obesity in United States (Kinsey, 1994; Buthrie, Lin & Frazao, 2002). Different studies , conducted on this topic, show a correlation between the fast food and the body weight (Jeffery & French, 1998). Similarly, nutrition analysis of different fast food items has also proved that they are high in energy density and thus causes high energy intake (Paeratakul et. al., 2003). Soda is usually an integral part of fast food. Statistics depicted that during the period from 1977 to 1996, 75% more boys consumed soda while the increase in girls was 40%, among the adolescents from 12 to 19 years of age. One can of soda increase the likelihood by 1.6 times for a child to become obese (Ludwig et al., 2001). However, there is no concrete data available to prove that fast foods are directly responsible for obesity. Most of the research conducted to identify a link between obesity and fast food emphasized more on aggregate level analysis instead of individual analysis. Due to their focus on aggregate level analysis, studies have found that more fast food restaurants and kiosks are present in such areas (usually low income group) which have high probability of obesity (Reidpath et. al., 2002). Nevertheless, one study conducted to determine the exact correlation between obesity and fast food has focused on individual level and it could not find any direct link between fast food intake and obesity (Burdette & Whitaker, 2004). Another such study found that children who eat more than three times a week in a fast food restaurant have 37 to 40% more calories intake which ultimately leads towards obesity (French et. al., 2001).    
One social disadvantage of fast food is breakdown of a family. Preparing and eating dinner together is a communicating time of a family which strengthens the bond of love between them. Fast food promotes ‘eating on the run’ which shorten the time spent on dinner table and ultimately weakens the bond and chord of love between different family members.  
It has also been blamed that fast food restaurants actively contribute in the environmental pollution. People say that fast food restaurant consume approximately 16 pounds of grains and 2,500 gallons of water to prepare one pound of hamburger. Thus, lot of natural resources is utilized to prepare fast food which ultimately creates food and natural resources shortage in different parts of the world.
There are several reasons of increasing popularity of fast food in America which includes family structure, low income families and advertising. Although research could not be able to develop a direct correlation between obesity and fast food but it is equally true that fast food, if not directly, indirectly affects the eating habits and obesity of people of United States. It is also a fact that fast food is considered junk food which is neither healthy nor balanced and by avoiding such food one can easily curtail his or her calories intake.  
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Problems of ADHD
ADHD may cause or accompany with problems like anxiety and depression in both children and adults. Social anxiety comes in two varieties. The state of social anxiety is a momentary experience that flares up at a certain time or in a certain place, and then passes. The trait of social anxiety is more enduring: a characteristic of certain individuals that persists over time and across situations. For those chronically afflicted, their anxiety locks them into increasingly unpleasant social interactions. Such individuals tend to reject other people, perhaps because they fear being rejected themselves. They are withdrawn and ineffective in social interactions, perhaps because they perceive negative reactions even where there are none. In fact, however, other people often do react negatively to interactions with socially anxious individuals.
            Depression is a psychological disorder characterized by negative moods, low esteem, pessimism, lack of initiative, and slowed thought process. Although there are numerous influences on depression, social psychologists have paid particular attention to the role of cognitive factors. Researchers believed that depression is caused due to the exposure to uncontrollable, aversive stimulation. They proposed that organisms exposed to an uncontrollable event learn something- namely that control is not possible. Faced with this knowledge, they stop trying to exert control even in a different situation. A sense of hopelessness does appear to serve as a major link between negative life events and depression.
            Treatment methods of ADHD may involve behavior modification, change in life style, motivation and counseling. Behavioral treatment plays the most important and effective role in ADHD management (Fabiano et al., 2009). Several psychological therapies are used to treat ADHD which include Psych-educational input, behavioral therapy, cognitive behavior theory, interpersonal psychotherapy, family therapy, parents training, school intervention etc.
Motivational interview is a technique to change or strengthen a person’s desire to change his or her behavior by stressing on factors like reasoning and desire. Most of the researchers concluded that ADHD is a psychological and personality disorder which can be treated by treating this disorder. Motivational interviews at health centers, college counseling and emergency departments would provide higher satisfaction rate and the success rate of this much higher than any other treatment.
Cognitive behavior therapy is also used to treat different cognitive behavior disorders as well as ADHD. It is a short term process of ADHD treatment which is considered a valuable therapy for such disorder. According to this therapeutic technique, people become victim of ADHD through their own behavior and feelings instead of any external cause such as people, events or situations. People are not always able to change their circumstances but they can always change their thought process and patterns.
Although different medications are also used to treat ADHD but all medications, either stimulant or non-stimulant, have their side effects. Due to this reason, medication is not recommended to treat ADHD, especially, for children (Greenhill et al., 2008)


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