Friday, February 27, 2009

Fast Food, Fat Food, and the People that result

I'll start by saying that Fast Food Nation is one of my new favorite books. It's well researched, well written, and it completely eradicated my taste for delicious Burger King french fries and Taco Bell everything. Not only does Schlosser effectively demonstrate how nutritionally detrimental fast food is, perhaps more importantly, it reveals many of the socio-economic maladies fast food has brought about, not to mention what I perceive as cultural rot.

There is too much material I could comment upon in Fast Food Nation, so for this blog post I'll focus on what I find to be the most disgusting part of the whole fast food machine: Marketing targeted at children. How many times have we heard that a child's mind is like a sponge, or to take it to the next level, like a Sham-Wow (a bit of marketing that promotes violent impulses in me). It makes no sense that American society finds it acceptable to allow any economic entity, not just fast food companies, to take advantage of the malleability and immaturity of a child. The advertising campaigns directed at children these days are aided by the increasing amount of time kids spend watching television, alone and unsupervised by parents that work long hours at one or two jobs, coming home with little time to prepare a decent nutritional meal and so falling back on the amazing convenience of fast food. Which, through advertising, the kids had been salivating over for hours already.

The advertising campaigns leveled at children have far-reaching consequences. Childhood obesity is at an all-time high and continues to grow all over the country. Furthermore, the tastes and preferences that are established during childhood are often carried into adulthood--fat kids have a pretty decent chance of being fat adults. Poor nutrition and obesity lead conclusively to heart disease, diabetes, and less conclusively to some cancers.

Cigarette companies were banned from advertising entirely, producing good results as teenage smoking incidence has thankfully deteriorated. Regulatory agencies should consider the same thing for the fast food industry. However, I have high doubts that effective restrictions will be placed on the advertising campaigns of such huge American institutions as McDonald's. The sheer lobbying power of that corporation alone could stall such regulatory proceedings indefinitely.

It is clear that children raised on fast food will not be as healthy as they otherwise could be and almost certainly will be detrimentally affected. As such, we should put a priority on the protection of the long term health of American children by simultaneously protecting them from the manipulative advertising advances of companies promoting culinary excrement.

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