The United States is the leading world producer of fast food. American fast food restaurants are found in over one hundred countries worldwide (Cindy 18). Approximately two million employees in the United States are employed in the fast food industry, including such areas as food servicing and preparation. According to Cindy (18), there are available more than 200, 000 restaurants, generating a revenue of $ 120 billion in sales in the U.S. alone. The key players in the American fast food industry include McDonalds’, Domino Pizza, Yum Brands, Sonic, as well as Wendy’s. Fast food consumption has become increasingly popular amongst Americans (Amanda 54). This has been attributed to an increased advertising of fast foods, the fast-paced lifestyle of Americans, as well as the exponential increase of fast food restaurants. Though fast foods are highly convenient, which helps to save time, thus increasing people’s efficiency (Amanda 54), they have come under sharp criticisms over their negative effects on human health.
The American society considers obesity as one of the leading health concerns today. According to Cutler, Glaeser and Shapiro (93), the average weight of Americans has been observed to be increasing over the years, despite advice from health experts on the importance of living healthy lifestyles. Given this continuous growth in their weights, obesity has increased significantly in the United States. It is estimated that sixty million American adults are obese, while one hundred and twenty seven million others are overweight (Jayne, and Bonnie 13). The incidence of obesity is highest in America compared to other developed countries around the world (Cutler, Glaeser and Shapiro, 93), and it cuts across all sectors of American population (Flegal, Carroll, Odgen and Johnson 1723 – 1727). In addition, there is a growing concern for the alarming number of children and adolescents who are overweight in America. It is estimated that 15% of American children are overweight in comparison to only 4% not many decades ago (Jayne, and Bonnie 13). Eating and excess calories that the body cannot burn results in obesity. Fast foods are notorious for their high calories, salt, sugar, fat; all of which have been linked to obesity.
Research by Amanda (54) revealed a direct connection between the fast food consumption and obesity; people who consume fast foods more than two times a week weigh on average five extra pounds compared to those who eat fast foods occasionally. It is estimated that the amount of fast foods American children consume is five times higher than children consumed in the 1980s (Jayne, and Bonnie 13). The negative effects of obesity on the health of Americans are far-ranging and numerous. It is estimated that every year the United States spend more than 150 billion dollars on obesity-related health conditions, and about 300,000 untimely deaths occur due to obesity (Jayne, and Bonnie 13).
Since 1980, there has been a significant increase in calorie consumption by Americans, and this has been attributed to the advancement of technology such as vacuum packing, deep freezing, improved preservatives, microwaves and artificial flavours, which make foods available for instant consumption (Cutlter, Glaeser and Shapiro 94). A majority of food preparations and eating are no longer done at home. A wide variety of fast food restaurants have become widely accessible to consumers, and people are increasingly turning to fast food consumption. The easy accessibility of fast foods is the reason of the increasing obesity rates in the country also. Nevertheless, some argue that fast food is not to blame for causing obesity, for it is an individual responsibility (Ames 295 – 299).
In this regard, the focus of my study shall delve on who to blame on the growing occurrence of obesity in the United States. While Americans are putting the blame on fast food restaurants for their obesity, critics argue that Americans should hold themselves liable for being obese, because they do not exercise personal responsibility with regards to what they consume.
To find out the cause of increasing obesity rates in the United State.
Significance of the Study
This study is vital because of the present situation in America in relation to the growing number of obese population. Americans are getting much heavier than they have ever been. Obesity, which has been associated with serious health problems such as Type II Diabetes, heart attack, cancer, high blood pressure etc (Wellman and Friedberg S706), and even one of the primary causes of death (Mokdad, Marks, Stroup, and Gerbending 1238) have become a significant concern in the United States. With conventional beliefs that fast food is to blame for causing obesity, this paper will, therefore, be highly significant in re-examining that belief. This paper shall give clarification that individuals have to take personal responsibility in order to prevent the increasing number of obese population. It is not just a matter of putting the blame on other factors, but being accountable for their own weights. It is vital that Americans realize the real causes of their obese conditions in order to be able to avoid it, and live much healthier lives than they have now.
Review of Related Literatures
A significant number of Americans are overweight, while others are obese, and fast food consumption has been blamed for this problem. More and more fast food restaurants are continuing to be established in different parts of America, making them very reachable to many Americans. Though these restaurants serve cheap and spicy foods, which are very convenient, such foods contain a lot of salt, fats and sugar, which are not only unhealthy, but contain excessive calories, which cause obesity. This section reviews past literature related to whether fast food consumption or individual responsibility is to blame for the alarming obesity rates in America.
Even though some suppose that fast food consumption is the leading cause of obesity, the accountability of individuals food choices has been overlooked. In Fast Food Isn’t to Blame (295-299) Ames argues that fast food consumers are totally to blame for ending up with excessive fat deposits in their body since they are not responsible for their own actions. People choose what to purchase and eat and are not coerced to buy and consume fast foods. Therefore, the blame must not be put on fast foods but on the consumers.
According to Ames (295 – 299), the blame on fast foods and fast food restaurants as the leading cause of obesity is no longer accepted. It is the individuals and not fast foods who should be held liable for their weight gains. It is their lifestyle that causes them to gain weight and have excessive fat deposits. Poor diet and lack of physical activities also cause obesity among people (Mokdad et al. 1238 – 1239). The results of my study will, therefore, come in handy in adding to the knowledge regarding the cause of obesity in America, and thereby, challenging consumers to take control of what they consume so as to live healthier lives.
The following are the questions I will ask the respondents during the data collection:
1. How do fast foods contribute to obesity among individuals?
2. Why are fast foods blamed for the occurrence of obesity?
3. To what extent are fast foods blamed for obesity?
4. How do individuals cause obesity among themselves?
5. When should individuals be held liable for their own obesity?
6. Why is obesity most often than not blamed on fast foods than individuals themselves?
Qualitative research shall be employed in the conduct of this study because of the sensitivity of the topic on obesity. Qualitative research is the most useful for inquiries into subjective issues and interpersonal relations. It also provides detailed information because it uncovers meaning and understanding of a certain phenomenon (Lincoln 275 – 289). The approach that will be applied in my research is based on the position that it attempts to interpret, understand, analyze, as well as, explain obesity and its relation to fast foods and individual responsibility.
In order to have the needed information for this study, an interview will be conducted on respondents. A total of ten obese individuals will be interviewed with the aid of a discussion guide. Purposive sampling technique shall be employed in searching for these respondents. No names of interviewees shall be disclosed. The interviews will be held in utmost confidence, and the respondents shall be rest assured that the information that they will provide, will be utilized only for the benefit of this study. Interviews will be recorded only with the respondents’ approval.
Data collected during the interview will be subjected to a data analysis using either excel or SPSS. The findings will be presented through visuals such as tables, graphs, charts etc. A discussion will be written explaining the findings of the study and its connection with past research i.e. whether it agrees with past arguments that fast food consumption, or individual responsibility is to blame for obesity in America. Finally, a conclusion will be drawn based on the findings of the study that will help unveil the actual cause of obesity among Americans.