By: Jenny Lee
A strange thing has happened. While health studies and articles rise, health food production inflates and health consciousness escalates, the consumption of fast food still expands. Why has this paradox happened? Indeed, we can fill our stomachs shouting for food, we can fulfill our taste buds missing fat and sodium with Big Mac Bacon meals and an ice cream sundae, all only for $6.99!
What do we sacrifice for a cheap price, big size, addictive taste? Our health! Certainly, fast food restaurants should display calorie information to reduce our swelling waistline.
Every year, fast foods such as burgers, french fries, ice cream sundae are ballooning larger and larger. At the same time, calories of fast foods are boosting higher and higher. According to The New York Times, in 2016, fast foods weigh 39 grams more and gain 90 more calories than in 1986. With generous dishes, fast food restaurants are baiting customers; hooked with their marketing decoy, customers are happily willing to spend their money only to lose their health.
Needless to say, fast food is the culprit of obesity. Two stars in McDonalds, Big Mac Bacon meal and an ice cream sundae, take up more than half of the daily recommended calories for adults: Big Mac Bacon burger is 610 calories, french fries 367 calories, coke 220 calories, and sundae 342 calories. The data released by Pathway Genomics shows that larger portions and lower cost play a harmonious harmful duet to increase calorie intake, leading to obesity. What is worse, fast food consumption goes up as the number of fast food restaurants ascends. The statistic data of North Ohio Heart Ohio Medical Group reveals that McDonalds has 35,000 locations around the world. This staggering number of fast food restaurants around the world has increased health problems. Women’s Health Weekly reports that obesity causes “a wide spectrum of health problems including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoarthritis, and polycystic ovary syndrome.” Not only this, plenty of well- known studies and publications indicate obesity as Mr. Nefarno who causes such evil problems to our health.
Then, why do we keep this nefarious food?
Yes, it is cheap, it is convenient, it is addictive. Fast food restaurants are serving us a trick, food with taste and yet with waste. They unscrupulously kill the nutritional values for taste. In 2010, CBS News reported that measured on a scale from 0 to 100 of Healthy Eating Index(HEI), eight representative restaurants including McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC scored an average of 48, far below than the expected score of 60. Indeed, we eat junk not food, more seriously, with a bomb of calorie.
When we cannot have the best way, we should choose a less harmful way – Calorie labelling. It can provide the opportunity for customers to control the next amount of intake of the foods. Indeed, by labelling calories, fast food restaurants can play a less inimical role in selling junk foods.
However, according to Harnack and French’s 2008 review on the impact of calorie label on food choice, calorie labels do not have the expected effect in reducing total calories at the purchase point. This study made a critical mistake in not looking into why calorie labelling is not so effective in the real world. Medical XPress states that though more than 20 restaurants started calorie labeling in the US, the labels are too tiny and unclear for customers to notice. In order to make the calorie labelling effective, Andrew Breck who committed research on whether the fast- food eaters make healthy choices based on calorie counts suggests that fast food restaurants should increase the type size or contrast the color of calorie label or use traffic- light type labeling to indicate its health degree.
Fast food restaurant industries, however, are strongly opposing calorie labelling. They must be afraid that when the customers are aware of the high calorie of the fast foods they sell, customers will intake less.
A piece of advice to the worried fast food restaurants: Remember you can achieve innovative improvement with obstacle in front of you. Calorie labelling can be a potentially valuable chance for fast food restaurants to develop a new recipe and apply new utensils to serve more healthy food for customers. At home, we already have air fryer! The fast food industry can also apply technology already available in the market to serve food of less calorie for their customers. In so doing, they can be a nice villain.
In this health-conscious society, calorie labelling should be mandated to keep us fit.
Castillo, Michelle. “Fast Food’s Nutritional Value Still Needs to Shape Up.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 8 May 2013, www.cbsnews.com/news/fast-foods-nutritional-value-still-needs-to-shape-up/.
Darcey, Melissa. “Fast Food and Obesity – The Cause and Effect Relationship.” Pathway Genomics, 10 Sept. 2018, www.pathway.com/blog/fast-food-and-obesity-the-cause-and-effect-relationship/.
Hsu, Tiffany. “Bigger, Saltier, Heavier: Fast Food Since 1986 in 3 Simple Charts.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 3 Mar. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/03/03/business/fast-food-health-salt-calories-portions.html.
Kiszko, Kamila M, et al. “The Influence of Calorie Labeling on Food Orders and Consumption: a Review of the Literature.” Journal of Community Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4209007/.
“New obesity research from B.W. Graves and co-researchers described.” Women’s Health Weekly, 2 Dec. 2010, p. 187. Global Issues in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A243203618/GPS?u=60iskl&sid=GPS&xid=f66f9993. Accessed 31 Mar. 2019.
Ohio Medical Group. “More Shocking Fast Food Statistics You Should Know.” North Ohio Heart, https://blog.partnersforyourhealth.com/blog/more-shocking-fast-food-statistics-you-should-know
Rauf, Don. “Fast-Food Calorie Labeling Not Working, Study Finds.” Medical Xpress – Medical Research Advances and Health News, Medical Xpress, 29 Nov. 2016, https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-11-fast-food-calorie.html.