Life in the Drive-Thru Lane: a Look at the Impact of Fast Food on America

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Life in the Drive-thru Lane:
A Look at the Impact of Fast Food on America

Weight gain, high cholesterol, vomiting, headaches, depression, and vanished sex drive; these are the effects of eating nothing but McDonald's for a month. That is exactly what happened to Morgan Spurlock, a filmmaker who ate McDonald's for three meals a day, every day, for a month for his documentary on the harmful effects of fast food on the body called "Supersize Me." No one expected the amount of harm McDonald's would have on his body. By exposing the evils about fast food, the truth is finally shown. So much of what we eat we know nothing about. Fast food restaurants are becoming a negative influence on our lives socially, economically, and physically (Usbourne). People should become more informed about this issue and find solutions to the problem that will prevent the negative effects from happening.

The growing number of fast food restaurants contributes to its effect on our lives socially. Fast food can be found everywhere. There are roughly 200,000 fast food restaurants in the United States alone (Schlosser 264). With 30,000 restaurants worldwide, the McDonald's Corporation owns the most retail property in the world (Schlosser 4). It is almost impossible to avoid seeing a fast food restaurant, which is why most people eat it so often.

Not only is fast food affecting America, it is also affecting the rest of the world. "Fast food has joined Hollywood movies, blue jeans, and pop music as one of America's most prominent cultural exports" (Schlosser 10). In foreign countries, companies adapt their food to local tastes (Hatfield). McDonald's has about 17,000 restaurants outside the United States in more than 120 foreign countries (Schlosser 229). They open about five new restaurants every day, and typically four of them are overseas (Schlosser 229).

With the growing number of restaurants, McDonald's is becoming more and morerecognized. They are the most widely recognized brand and spend the most money on advertising. The own more playgrounds and give out more toys than any other company. The also have a popular clothing line. In a recent survey of schoolchildren 96% could identify Ronald McDonald, second only to Santa Claus (Schlosser 4). In a survey in five different countries, the Golden Arches were more widely recognized than the Christian cross (Schlosser 5).

The impact fast food has had on people's lives is astounding. People have begun relying on it. Three out of ten customers say that eating a fast food meal is essential to the way they live (Paeratuakul). Most fast food visits are unplanned. More than 70% are impulsive decisions (Schlosser 66). Adolescents eat fast food about twice per week (Paeratakul). One-quarter of the adult population can be found at a fast food restaurant on any given day (Schlosser 3).

With so many people eating out at fast food restaurants this leaves many families to lose the traditional family dinner time. It is sad when families have become so busy with their lives that they can not find time to sit down and have a meal together. The past few years I lived at home my mom was too busy to cook so I ate more fast food than I should have. It is so easy to just grab a meal at a fast food restaurant and forget about eating with your family. This is causing families to grow apart even further. A good idea would be to set aside time to actually eat as a family.

Along with the impact on society comes an impact on our economy. Americans use the majority of their food money to buy processed food (Schlosser 120). About half the money used to buy food is used at restaurants typically fast food restaurants (Schlosser 4). Americans spend $110 billion annually on fast food. Americans spend a lot of money in order to enjoy a fast food meal. "They spend more of fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music- combined" (Schlosser 3).

The fast food industry itself...
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