The Fast Food Epidemic

Supersize me was a documentary that was released in 2004. Morgan Spurlock’s journey of eating only McDonald’s food for 30 days outlines the impacts that this food has on his health. He was guided by medical professionals and is advised to stop the experiment a couple of weeks in. The effects that this diet had on Spurlock were shocking.

Even though we don’t eat a diet of McDonald’s alone, the amount of take away we eat per week is increasing. This drastic change seen in Spurlock’s health could be happening at a slower and more insidious pace in us.

On my previous blog topic I talked about the changes in the way we eat food and the governmental and agricultural industries influence on nutritional guidelines.

So why have these changes happened? Why are we eating so differently to our grandparents? Most of all, what impacts is this fast food trend having on our population?

mid section view of a man sitting on a bench in a park

Last time I briefly touched on the rise in incidence of obesity in teens and children, although, this trend is occurring in general populations of developed countries. We are seeing a rise in caloric consumption that is linked with increased income and a rise in fast food and takeout consumption (Meniado 2010). But why are these trends occurring?

Is it because we have?

  • less less time to prepare foods due to our busy lifestyles.
  • Most families have two parents working and the dynamics of the roles of housewives have changed
  • Availability of convenience foods has risen
  • Caloric content in foods has increased due to trans-fats, salts, sugars and other additives in packaged foods

3142vie

The graph and pie charts above show an increase in the times per year we eat at restaurants, take out chains and the food budget that is spent on restaurant meals compared to home cooked meals.

From these figures we can see that we eat at fast food restaurants more than we do sit down to eat restaurants, and that home cooked meals are becoming less frequent. This is an alarming trend that has lead to an increase in the rates of obesity.

From the beginnings of McDonald’s life as a barbeque stall in the 1940’s it has risen in numbers obscenely to over 34,000 restaurants worldwide (McDonald’s 2013).

Sarah Clark (2012) talks about some of the reasons that we love to eat fast food on her website ‘Fast Food Nation’. Some of these reasons include:

  • Quick and convenience
  • Cheap and accessible for busy people and families
  • It tastes GOOD?

Some people might think that is tastes better than others, but did you know that we are biologically programed to like it. Why? Well, according to Clark (2012), the fat and sugar content released feel good chemicals in our brains and this causes pleasure seeking behaviors. This means that we go back and back to that chocolate or hamburger because we are addicted to the high, not to mention the sugar and fat that it contains.

So if we are addicted to this way of eating and it is making us unhealthy and causing our waist lines to expand, what are we to do about it?

In my next blog, I will provide some information on the ways that we can overcome these sneaky addictions and make healthier choices.

References

Clark, S 2012, ‘Fast food nation’, retrieved 26 April 2013, <http://www.fastfoodnation.co.uk/development-fast-food.html&gt;.

Gupta, A 2011, ‘Ielts writing’, retrieved 27 April 2013, <http://ieltswritingbyabijah.blogspot.com.au/2010/10/task-1-graph-solved-pie-chart-line.html&gt;.

Lee,C 2004, ‘Sipersie me’, retrieved 26 April 2013, <http://www.thefilmjournal.com/issue9/supersizeme.html&gt;.

Meniado, K.B 2010, ‘Obesity lies in the wealthy of poor countries’, Health, 22 November, retrieved 25 April 2013, <http://thenewschronicle.com/obesity-lies-wealthy-poor-countries/112209629/&gt;.

McDonald’s 2013, ‘Our company – McDonald’s mission’, retrieved 26 April 2013, <http://www.aboutmcdonalds.com/mcd/our_company.html&gt;.

You are what you eat… Really?

By Rebecca Novakovic

Eating Trends

French doctor and gourmand, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin is often quoted as saying ‘you are what you eat’ but the direct quote was from her book ‘Physiology of Taste, or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy’, was “Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are” (Hancox 2010).

If this is true, I bet we all feel a little queezy at times. Today’s society has been changing dramatically, with the advent of new technologies, transport and availability of produce and also our lifestyles. The way we eat now is so different to the way our grandparents ate when they were growing up. Does this have an impact on how we feel and our health? I believe that it has a direct correlation, and as it turns out so do many scientists and doctors.

child-obesity-statistics-age-gender

According to the statistics, the rates of obesity in children and teens have been rising significantly since the mid 70’s (Bariatric Surgery Source 2013). This is an alarming trend.  But what is causing this epidemic and what can we do about it?

In the video link at the start of the blog, there is a trailer of a documentary called ‘Food Matters”, this is an amazing documentary about:

  • The link between food and health
  • Impact of fast food on society
  • Government recommendations for nutrition and the bias from major industries

After watching this documentary, I started to question the guidelines and advice from governmental groups surrounding nutrition. Did you know that Dairy consumption has been linked to osteoporosis and other diseases? (Food Matters 2013). One might ask the question – Why then is the recommended intake of dairy 3 serves per day according to the ‘Food Guide Pyramid’? (That is recommended by dietitians from government and registration board members) (Mazansky 2011).

food_pyramid2

Government & Agricultural Influence

I went to the dietician the other day to get some dietary advice for my allergies. After a discussion with the dietitian I was shocked and appalled to find out that according to the dietician (who shall remain anonymous) could only recommend what the board of nutrition stated as ‘daily recommend intakes’. Only the dietary information given by her supervisory board could be given to patients, even if there was evidence to the contrary that other dietary advice would be more suitable.

Do the governing bodies really have our best interest at heart? I think not.

The agricultural industry is promoting dairy and meat consumption for their own benefit. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was started originally to advocate for the interest of the farmers and is said to be acting on: consumer interests and setting nutrition standards (Simon 1998). Does anyone see a problem here?

If the evidence leads towards a plant based dairy free diet for increased health, where would that leave the meat and dairy industry? Without a lot of money…

Many different movements of healthy diet opinion point towards a plant based diet that is free from dairy, gluten and meat. We all could do with some more thought towards our food intake and eating a balanced diet that is low in saturated fats, salt, sugar and processed food but why do people not eat healthier diet?

Upcoming Posts

In my next two postings I will talk about:

  • The Fast Food Epidemic
  • Nutrition and Guidelines for Healthy Food Consumption.

References

Bariatric Surgery Source 2013, ‘Child Obesity Statistics & Teenage Obesity Statistics: 1963 to Present’, retrieved 17 April 2013, <http://www.bariatric-surgery-source.com/child-obesity-statistics.html&gt;

Bosch, L & Colquhoun, J 2013, ‘Food Matters – You are what you eat’, retrieved April 17 2013, <http://www.foodmatters.tv/&gt;.

Dawn, L 2013, ‘Cow’s milk linked to osteoporosis’, retrieved 17 April 2013, <http://sacredsourcenutrition.com/cows-milk-linked-to-osteoporosis/#&gt;

Hamouy, P 2013, ‘Diet -Can dairy cause disease?’, retrieved 18 April 2013, <http://www.streetdirectory.com/food_editorials/health_food/healthy_eating/diet_can_dairy_cause_disease.html&gt;.

Hancox, J 2010, ‘You are what you eat’, retrieved 16 April 2013, <http://jenniferhancox.com/2010/08/you-are-what-you-eat/&gt;

Mazinsky, H 2011, ‘Food Pyramid’, retrieved 16 April 2013, <http://gianinc.com/food-pyramid/&gt;

Simon, M 1998, ‘The Politics of Meat and Dairy: How Big Business Influences Government Policy and Our Food Choices’, retrieved 16 April 2013, <http://www.appetiteforprofit.com/docs/politics_of_meat_and_dairy_article.html&gt;