The Reality of Fast Food Consumption

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Nicholas Leung
May 2012
The Reality of Fast Food Consumption

Introduction
When was the last time you had fast food just because it was so easy, filling, convenient and inexpensive? Fast foods restaurants provide foods that are quick, cheap, and easy alternatives to home cooked meals, that do not provide table service, and tend to be high in saturated fat, salt, calories while containing little nutrients (Gaskell). Sometimes we eat food from restaurant chains such as McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken or Dunkin Donuts because it’s quick and may taste amazing when we’re really hungry. People primarily choose fast food because they find it quick, easily accessible, and good tasting (Hitti). While most Americans are aware that there are some negative health consequences for eating fast foods, a quarter of the population still chooses to consume it every day (Schlosser). Fast food restaurant advertisements help create a demand for fast food and its accessibility makes it an easy choice for consumers. Unfortunately, it is increasingly evident that regular fast food consumption is not only unhealthy but also increases the risk of obesity.

Misleading Advertisement
The main purpose of advertisements is to provide information and create demand for a product or service. Advertisements for fast food establishments such as McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell etc. are abundant whether on television, print media or the radio and always portrays their products as tasty and desirable. When we look at a McDonalds billboard, it always shows a juicy burger with leafy fresh greens, and real cheese on a bun perfectly aligned. In reality, what is usually served is a semi-squished burger, tilted to a side and has a mush of highly processed cheese and lettuce, which looks like it has been sitting out for a while. The “beef” used contains more additives then the amount of meat itself. Taco Bell’s “beef” is only about 35 percent meat. The other 65 percent of their “beef” are additives, preservatives, extenders, binders and other unnatural substances (Caulfield). Many of the substances and preservatives added have been proven to lead to cancer (The Effects of Fast Food Additives and Preservatives). The misleading information that we are provided with is damaging our health without our knowledge. What about healthier additions to the menu? It’s not only the Big Mac or the chicken nuggets that gives us too much fat and calories; it’s also the salads. We think of salads as something that is healthy for us, but when it’s sold in a fast food chain, it's a totally different story. For example, “Quizno’s Mediterranean Chicken Salad has 770 calories, and 19 grams of saturated fat… Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Caesar salad, serves up 770 calories, 49 grams of fat (17 of them artery-clogging saturated fat) and 1,810 milligrams of sodium”(Beck). That's double the calories of a regular burger. Clearly, most fast food salads are not much lighter in calories and fat, then the burger you get. Most foods sold at fast food chains are not beneficial to us, and we cannot trust these companies. Subway Sandwiches is a healthier fast food alternative provided that you make nutritious choices when you custom make your sandwich. If you make the right choices and put lean meats like turkey or chicken, fresh green leaves, as well as a nice light dressing, your meal will be healthy. However, if you choose an unhealthy Subway sandwich such as the foot-long Meatball Pepperoni Melt, the results may be just as heavy and fat as a Big Mac because this foot-long sandwich contains 1200 calories, and 3120 mg of sodium (Nutrition Information), which is way over the daily sodium recommendation. To mislead you into thinking their food is healthier then it actually is, Subway has a section called Meal Builder on their website. They take McDonald’s Big Mac meal, Burger King’s Whooper meal, and compare it to their “Fresh Fit” meal. Out of all their...
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