Junk Food Industry and Obesity

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“In the U.S. obesity rates have risen from 14% in 1978 to 31% in 2000…according to WHO/FAO in 2001, chronic diseases resulting largely from poor diet contributed to 60% of the 56 million reported deaths worldwide” (Lang & Heasman 2004:53). Both Canadian and American citizens alike spend vast amounts of their money on food and a significant percentage of that money is spent on low-nutrition foods such as fast foods and processed foods. Being the cash cow that it is, the capitalist food system has provided the opportunity for corporations to profit numerous types of junk foods (fast & processed foods containing high sugar, salt, fat). According to Robert Albritton’s (2009:90) “Let Them Eat Junk,” he argues that “the consumption of junk foods is not the only cause of obesity, but it is doubtless a major cause…[and] obesity is something that we allow to happen, and while there may be many causes, [he] would argue that the primary cause is a capitalist food system that we have allowed to subject us.” This essay will further extend on that argument and examine that the growing trend of obesity is caused by the fundamental principle of the capitalist food system, which is to profit from selling junk foods without considering the health consequences associated with it. Examining why consumers eat junk food in a sociological perspective, the financial incentives associated with selling junk foods in a capitalist perspective, and the health problems/consequences from the consumption of junk foods will be explored. A solution will be provided in attempts to rectify the growing trend of obesity due to junk foods. It is vital that we also look into the health implications as a result of the consumption of junk foods. Most notably, the greatest risk being obesity. Public health is an important factor in today’s society. Billions of dollars are spent on health care all over the world. At the same time, about the same amount of money is being put into a system that deters the...
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