Obesity is one of the most significant problems in the United States. When I came to the United States, I observed a lot of people suffering from obesity. As far as I am concerned, there are more people who are overweight compared to people in Tokyo. Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, says “The United States now has the highest obesity rate of any industrialized nation in the world. More than half of American adults and about one-quarter of all American children are now obese or overweight” (240). I was shocked to find out that a friend, who is twenty-four years old college student, in the U.S. died last year from type II diabetes. As Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore’s dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals reveals, how the problem is serious:
According to the surgeon general, obesity today is officially an epidemic; it is arguably the most pressing public health problem we face, costing the health care system an estimated $90 billion a year. Three of every five Americans are overweight; one of every five is obese. The disease formerly known as adult-onset diabetes has had to be renamed Type II diabetes since it now occurs so frequently in children. (102)
Obesity is relevant to the history of fast food chain restaurants, especially after 1970s. They made it possible to serve inexpensive meat, such as hamburgers and chicken nuggets to everyone. McDonald’s intentional self-service system made it possible for every American to eat inexpensive meals. “Working-class families could finally afford to feed their kids restaurant food” (Schlosser 20). However, eating processed food especially animal meat leads people obesity and diseases. Most people eat burgers with supersized sodas in fast food chain restaurants. Hence, it is clear that the growing number of fast food restaurants in the United State corresponds to the number of obesity.
McDonald’s business has grown rapidly in the United States. We can find McDonald’s everywhere. “The leading fast food chains spread nationwide; between 1960 and 1973, the number of McDonald’s restaurants grew from roughly 250 to 3,000” (Schlosser 24). Under those circumstances, people eat more hamburgers and drink sodas. Pollan says “When food is abundant and cheap, people will eat more of it and get fat. Since 1997 an American’s average daily intake of calories has jumped by more than 10 percent” (Pollan 102). Consequently, it changed Americans’ eating habits, and eventually fast food became an American culture. “In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, they spent more than $110 billion. Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music – combined (Schlosser 24).”
We can find it out in the Figure 1 how after the 1970’s in the United States, the growth of the fast food restaurants overlaps with the increasing number of obesity. After the fast food restaurants spread epidemically, the number of obesity rate of American has risen up dramatically. “A generation ago, three-quarters of the money used to buy food in the United States was spent to prepare meals at home. Today about half of the money used to buy food is spent at restaurant – mainly at fast food restaurants (Schlosser 4) ” Henceforth, McDonald’s became one of the most important company in the United States. Schlosser says that “the McDonald’s Corporation has become a powerful symbol of America’s economy, which is now responsible for 90 percent of the country’s new job. In 1968, MacDonald’s operated about one thousand restaurants” (4).
Obesity problem is spreading as much McDonald’s growth as around the world. In that case, obesity and food related problems which have been happening in the United States will be happening in the world, such as unhealthy eating habits, obesity and unsustainable agriculture. “McDonald’s now ranks as the most widely recognized brand in the world, more familiar than Coca-Cola” (Schlosser 229). Eating animal meat, especially hamburgers or fried chicken from fast food restaurants, leads people to obesity. We have to be aware of how fast food spreads promptly and is changing our eating habits and agriculture practices around the world. We admit that fast food is convenient and inexpensive, however, if we do not change eating habits, we might get sick in the future. “Because of diabetes and all the other health problems that accompany obesity, today’s children may turn out to be the first generation of Americans whose life expectancy will actually be shorter than that of their parents” (Pollan 102).