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“Fast food chanins must bear some of the blame for the antion’s weight problem” (Goode 427). Corporations are not the cause of he growing obesity epidemic among children is caused by irresponsible parents not properly taking care of their children, not companies that are trying to be successful. The companies are not at fault because a parent willfully decided to purchase an unhealthy meal for their child. Fast food companies offer larger portion sizes for adults at first, then it trickled down into kid’s meals. These companies have reduced the price of their meals to accommodate more people and to gain more customers. They advertise to announce new products for the public. These companies open locations frequently to become more available and to gain more business. They offer a variety of choices to accommodate any customer with special tastes or needs. The companies are not holding people at gunpoint to purchase their product, it is entirely the choice of the consumer and the company’s actions reflect that.
The growing epidemic of childhood obesity may be caused by the increasing portion sizes that fast food restaurants offer today. Erica Goode describes the problem in her article, “The Gorge-Yourself Environment.” “From giant sodas to supersize burgers to all-you-can-eat buffets, America’s approach to food can be summed up by one word: Big” (Goode 427). American’s pride themselves on having an excess of everything whether that be food, cars , or other materials. This results in Americans seeking the biggest and tastiest meals. For some, it is about the challenge to consume the most massive burger and for some it is about getting the most, “bang for their buck.” An ad from Mcdonald’s shows the mindset of getting more for less, as the ad tries to sell the supersize option as having more food for more value. Mcdonalds was a pioneer of the larger portion sizes with supersized meals that Americans loved since they felt it was a good deal. Consequently, children are affected by the larger portion sizes as evident by the childhood obesity epidemic that is ravaging the United States. “In 2012, fully 18% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 were considered obese, up from 7% in 1980,”(Kaplan). This statistic just shows how staggering the epidemic is and how vulnerable children are becoming to obesity over time. If parents do not strive to provide properly proportioned meals for their children, then the percentage of children that are obese will rise.With these larger portion sizes, it would be obvious that prices would rise; however, prices have reduced over time.
The prices of fast food meals have gradually fallen to entice low-income customers. For example, currently there is a special at Mcdonald’s for a 50 piece Chicken Mcnugget meal for ten dollars. This deal appeals to low-income families since it can feed a family for only ten dollars. This leads to low-income children being more at risk of developing childhood obesity.
According to Goode, “Price is a powerful influence”(Goode 428). This is true since a parent would rather buy the 50 piece Chicken Mcnugget deal since it is cheaper and easier than cooking a healthy meal for their children at home. Also in every happy meal that you can purchase there is a toy included inside the happy meal. This toy can entertain the child for at least a couple of hours. This seems like a great deal for any parent since they can feed their child and distract them for a while for a relatively cheap price. While it is somewhat relieving to have the option to distract a child for a while so a parent can have a chance to rest, it is irresponsible to feed your child fast food often. The child may beg and plead to get their kids meal, but ultimately it is up to the parent to purchase it and feed it to their child. Price has a huge influence on the consumption of fast food. However, advertisements for the meals are what informs the public of the deals and what entices them further to go to their local fast food restaurant.
Fast food restaurants have created very effective advertisements that target children and they display them on every children’s television channel. An excerpt from the article, “The Gorge-Yourself Environment” perfectly describes human nature when informed about free food. “Keep the tabletop in the office stocked with cookies and candy, and people will nibble their way through the workday, even if they are not hungry” (Goode 427). When someone knows that there is free or cheap food within their reach they will obtain it just because it is free or cheap even if it is not healthy. Another way that fast food corporations advertise their meals is by not directly talking about the meal but placing it in an advertisement about the restaurant. For instance, Mcdonald’s and Burger king will usually have children having fun in their “play places,” eating their happy meals, and playing with the toys that they receive. These advertisements show a happy, playful environment that entices children to beg their parents to stop by their local fast food restaurant. Another way that fast food restaurants advertise their product is to include a well known celebrity or athlete. According to TIME magazine, “there’s more evidence of how powerful a celebrity – especially a professional athlete – can be in influencing children’s behavior.” This can very much influence children since children see athletes as role models and will want to imitate them. This leads to them visiting the fast food restaurant since their role model does. A good example of this is a Burger King ad that has David Beckham endorsing one of their smoothies. Some advertisements do not advertise a specific product, but advertise a new location being opened.
The availability of fast food restaurants in the United States is uncomparable to any other country. Fast food restaurants are within eyesight in any city. Corporations place their restaurants in highly populated centers such as shopping centers or by schools. As evident in an academic study, “In our sample. . . high school students were disproportionately exposed to both FFRs [Fast Food Restaurants] and TOs near schools” (D’Angelo p. 1561). These locations are placed near schools to target students that are seeking a cheap meal after school. These restaurants are also prioritizing placing locations near low-income families. It is the job of the parent to show their child that there are better options to satisfy their hunger after school. However it is natural for someone to partake in what is available and this is made evident by a study in Erica Goode’s article. “When the candy was in plain sight on workers’ desks, they ate an average of nine pieces each” (Goode 428). These workers would consume more candy the more readily available it was to them. This is caused by the reasoning that there is no direct consequence to eating the food since it is free and it takes little to no work to obtain. In an ad by Mcdonald’s there is a clock showing 2:04 A.M. and it states that Mcdonald’s is still open and this shows how easy it is to visit Mcdonald’s no matter what time it is. As more fast food restaurants are created it becomes more available and consequently it creates a greater number of food choices for the consumer.
The number of fast food choices has increased which has increased the amount of fast food consumption. For example, in a study in Goode’s article, “participants served a four-course meal with meat, fruit, bread and a pudding-foods with very different tastes, flavors and textures-ate 60 percent more food than those served an equivalent meal of only their favorite course”(428). Corporations have paid attention to these studies and have introduced different foods in hope of increased sales. This has affected happy meals also since they offer different choices with them instead of the regular burger, fries, and a drink, they will also offer different options. For instance, in an ad by Mcdonald’s, it portrays some of the items offered on the their dollar menu. Instead of showing a burger the ad shows a chicken sandwich, sundae, and salad. This ad shows the variety of food that Mcdonald’s offers that can accommodate anyone. The number of food choices that have become available has resulted in increased obesity rates since everyone can find something that they like at a fast food restaurant.
A parent controls what their child eats not a fast food company. The increased portion sizes reflect the wants of the customers. The reduced prices are to gain more low-income customers. Children can easily be manipulated by advertisements, but adults should be able to tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Fast food restaurants would not be so readily available if there was not such a high demand for them. The number of food choices are just a common strategy for any kind of company to employ to gain customers. The blaming of fast food companies for the childhood obesity epidemic is just an easy scapegoat for irresponsible, lazy parents that do not care about the health of their children.
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