Since the mid-1980s, the prevalence of obesity has rapidly increased in the United States. In the same time period, the number of fast food restaurants has tripled. The widespread availability of fast food restaurants in America is clearly a contributing factor to the rise in obesity rates. The obesity rates of 3.5 million schoolchildren and the weight gain of over 2 million pregnant women are both affected by proximity to fast food.
Policymakers in several states in the United States have responded to curb this issue through the following ways; Restricting the content or the availability of fast foods in the restaurants, Calorie labeling and value sizing of the meals offered at fast food restaurants and finally, Prevention of new fast food restaurants from opening. As such, this paper seeks to identify the effects of increases in the supply of fast food restaurants on obesity rates and possible solutions to protect peoples health.
Restricting the Content or the Availability of Fast Foods in the Restaurants
Consumption of foods offered at fast food restaurants means eating less of healthy foods. Fast food restaurants in America make people think that the reason they are consuming so much of their products is that they are providing what they demand, as such, they have increased their outlets with an intention of creating a world where fast food is cheapest, easiest and the most available choice (Koplan, Jeffrey and William 1581). Peoples unhealthy food consumption is influenced by individuals food preference, family income, and social factors that include food prices and food availability (Kumanyika et al. 425). However, to improve food consumption and to prevent obesity, several food-related policies have been proposed to aid in decreasing the availability, acceptability, and affordability of unhealthy food choices that cause obesity in various settings such as workplace, schools, homes and community (Koplan, Jeffrey and William 1580). Additionally, the policies regulate the content of the fast foods in the restaurants to improve the obesity rate.
Calorie Labeling and Value Sizing Of the Meals Offered At Fast Food Restaurants
There has been an increase in weight among pregnant women in America, and this has been noted to be because of the meals offered at fast food restaurants. The increase in weight implies that there has been an increased caloric ingestion of 1 to 4 calories daily in the body. Furthermore, increases of the fast food restaurant have a significant effect on obesity and weight gain in pregnant women (Nestle, Marion, and Michael 12). Calorie labeling may play a significant role in preventing people from choosing unhealthy foods. Policy makers should be pushing for legislation, requiring nutritional labeling on fast foods in the fast food restaurants to help consumers determine the unhealthy foods. Such labeling may influence peoples food choices and as such, improve the intake of unhealthy foods that cause obesity (Kumanyika et al. 425).
The U.S. should adopt the front-of- pack labels in which red, yellow and green labels keep up a correspondence to high, medium and low percentage of fat, salt, total energy and sugar in the food products. The color-coding makes visible the information that consumers need to be aware of before buying food products. Additionally, the back-of-pack labeling, in which the side of the package is labeled but red indicate high levels of sugar, fat and energy level. This labeling should also be implemented to help consumers make healthier choices within the short time frame that they need to typically make purchase decisions in fast food restaurants (Sallis and Karen 130).
Preventing New Fast Food Restaurants from Opening
The recent increase of fast food restaurants in America shows that other new fast food restaurants are likely to open to curb the expected high demand of fast foods from consumers. The higher demand for unhealthy foods is correlated with high risks of obesity, and the presence of unobserved determinants of obesity is due to the increase in the number of fast food restaurants (Nestle, Marion and Michael 12). In America, many people are obese, and this is because fast food restaurants are distributed equally in different geographical locations. Furthermore, the observable characteristics of mothers that predict weight gain are because there is a vast supply of fast food restaurants in every region, and as such, fast food restaurants are promoting increases in obesity and weight gain. This opposes the need for new fast food restaurants establishments.
National Public Nutrition Education is important to help facilitate behavioral health changes and to promote healthy diets especially that aim at preventing obesity (Sallis and Karen 140). The government should develop dietary guidelines to help increase public awareness of nutritional needs and assist in nutritional education in a different setting and at multiple levels. This will prevent people from visiting the fast food restaurants, and as such; new fast food restaurants cannot be established due to low demand. Policy makers should also prevent the opening of new fast food restaurants to secure peoples health.
Obesity is a condition that is characterized by excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body. The availability of many fast food restaurants in America has caused the increase in obesity in many individuals, over the recent years. Obesity has been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and hypertension and as such, it has become a serious public concern. The supply of fast foods and incidence of obesity are based on correlations and as such, nutritional policy makers ought to make strategies that can help curb the issue. Most fast foods restaurants are opened in areas where the demand for fast foods is strong, and as such, consumers have easy access to the unhealthy foods from many sources, making obesity rate to increase, however, possible solutions have been put in place to curb the problem.
Koplan, Jeffrey P., and William H. Dietz. “Caloric imbalance and public health policy.” Jama 282.16 (2017): 1579-1581.
Kumanyika, S., et al. “Obesity Prevention: Case for action.” International journal of obesity 26.3 (2002): 425.
Nestle, Marion, and Michael F. Jacobson. “Obesity epidemic: a public health policy approach.” Public health reports 115.1 (2017): 12.
Sallis, James F., and Karen Glanz. “Solutions to the obesity epidemic.” Milbank Quarterly 87.1 (2016): 123-154.