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


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.


Clark, S 2012, ‘Fast food nation’, retrieved 26 April 2013, <;.

Gupta, A 2011, ‘Ielts writing’, retrieved 27 April 2013, <;.

Lee,C 2004, ‘Sipersie me’, retrieved 26 April 2013, <;.

Meniado, K.B 2010, ‘Obesity lies in the wealthy of poor countries’, Health, 22 November, retrieved 25 April 2013, <;.

McDonald’s 2013, ‘Our company – McDonald’s mission’, retrieved 26 April 2013, <;.