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Over the years, it has been widely assumed that fast food meals offered by brands such as KFC, Burger King, Taco Bell, and McDonald's are the primary and sole cause of the growing obesity crisis, especially among children and young adults. This conclusion has been greatly influenced by the belief that fast food franchises serve unhealthy snacks and are therefore to blame for the increase of obesity cases in the United States. Despite this, fast food meals remain highly common in the United States. Quick food restaurants now service nearly 50 million customers a day, according to estimates (Nestle & Young). As a result, there are many fast-food chains as well as franchises as compared to the last few decades. The reason why fast food restaurants have been popular is due to their numerous advantages. This paper explores the benefits of fast food such as availability of healthy choices, budget-friendliness, saving time, convenience, accessibility as well as presence of a large variety of food choices.
Healthy Food Choices
One of the primary benefits associated with fast food is based on the fact that fast food restaurants offer a variety of healthy and smarter choices on the menu (Clark). People are not limited to meals such as fries or burgers since meals such as chicken salad are available. The shift is a result people being more conscious about their health, hence, increase in the demand for healthy food options. Owing to the demand of healthy food choices all fast food restaurants tend to offer a variety of foods including healthy alternatives (Diaz, 1). Therefore, people have the power to avoid particular types of food with high calories as well as eliminate unhealthy ingredients in their meals by requesting customized orders (Clark). For example, an individual can request low-fat milk or fresh juices while avoiding sugary drinks. Moreover, most of the chain fast food restaurants have been providing calorie counts on the menu boards as stipulated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act established in 2010 (Stein). Presence of calories counts on the menus has enabled people to make decisions on the most appropriate food as well as the amount to consume based on the number of calories. Furthermore, another advantage of fast food restaurants is that the majority of them offer a list of nutritional facts in pamphlets as well as in posters which are then displayed to aid people in making healthy food choices.
Fast Food is Less Expensive and Economical and Saves Time
One of the primary advantages of fast food products is the fact that they are cheaper as most fast food restaurants offer a variety of meals that fit within one’s budget (Untaru, 30). Some of the affordable healthy fast food include dried beans, tuna, and brown rice that are relatively cheap but nutritious items. Healthier food options offered in fast food restaurants tend to be more expensive as compared to those considered as non-healthy. However, since it is fast food, people are still able to save some money compared to homemade foods (MahaSheikh). Homemade meals in most instances are more expensive because they require people to purchase ingredients among other resources such as gas as well as utensils. Hence, preparing homemade meals especially when living alone is an extremely costly exercise.
Fast food can also be termed as economical as most the meals offered are in large portions for little amount of money. While this might be viewed as a negative aspect that encourages obesity, it is actually an advantage. By offering large portions of food at reduced prices, it is quite economical as food can be shared either among family members or friends. Therefore, people are able to save up on money while at the same time ensuring everyone is satisfied.
In this fast-paced world where individuals have extremely busy social lives as well as routines, it is quite hard to take some time out purposely to prepare food at home. Concerning this, one of the primary advantages fast food restaurants is that people are able to saves up on time because there exists little or no waiting time for food to be prepared. Also, most of the fast food restaurants tend to have a drive through which to a great extent allows customers to make and receive their orders more quickly (Clark). As a result, people do not have to exit their cars in order to purchase food. When compared to some of the traditional restaurants; in fast food restaurants, people are able to save up to one hour while ordering and eating meals. Time saved is thereby, spent on other crucial as well as profitable endeavors.
Fast Food Restaurants Offer Various Choices
Currently, most of the food choices offered in fast food restaurants are exciting since there are numerous flavors from different cultures which enables people to pick a new fast food meal on a daily basis. Presence of various food choices in fast food enables individuals to experience cultures such as the Chinese, Italian, Middle Eastern and Mexican among other cultures. (Diaz, 1). Another advantage of fast food restaurants in regard to food choices is that, meals from various countries are offered at a lower price, hence, they are affordable to most of the American citizens. For example, an American who seeks to experience the culture of China they can simply walk into a Chinese fast food restaurants and purchase food at low prices. Moreover, another advantage is that most of the fast food meals from different countries are healthy since they contain low calories and have crucial nutrients (Diaz, 1).
Convenience and Accessibility
Currently, fast food restaurants are considered a modern approach to food consumption that aids in providing food within reach (Diaz, 1). Fast food joints are spread across all the states in the US, they are open and serving any time of the day. Moreover, they are also found on almost every street in the US; hence, increasing their accessibility as they often require a short drive to the nearest fast food restaurant (Untaru, 31). Due to the ease of accessibility of the fast food, everyone has a chance to have a meal without going through the troubles of preparing it themselves (Untaru, 31). Some fast food restaurants offer home-delivery services where the food is brought to the doorstep. This is convenient because at times a person can be caught up with activities or too sick to cook.
Fast Food Meals are Not the Cause of Obesity
Most people attribute the increasing consumption of fast food as the primary cause of the obesity problem among children as well as adults in the US. However, a recent research study as reported in Science Daily indicates that consumption of fast food is not the actual cause of obesity in America (Binghamton University). One of the reasons why fast food is not the actually cause of the increased obesity problem in the US is that fast food restaurants provide healthy choices. Hence, obesity can be considered as a byproduct a greater problem, poor daily dietary habits. (Binghamton University). In the modern world, consumption of fast food by children as well as young adults is part of daily dietary patterns which include few vegetables, large amounts of processed foods, and sugar-sweetened beverages usually fostered by schools, caregivers as well as parents at home (Poti, Duffey and Popkin).
Moreover, according to research, consumption of fast food would not be a problem if the “cyberspace society would not have taken over” whereby children spend hours sitting playing video games while consuming unhealthy foods. Hence, they have little to no time to exercise which is important as it aids in burning excess calories.
Another reason for the rise in obesity levels in the US is individuals’ definition of portion sizes. Currently, the society’s idea of the appropriate or “right” portion is all wrong. For example, 20 years ago, a large coke was approximately 6.5 ounces at 85 calories however, today a large coke is 20 ounces at 250 calories. Allowing such changes in the size of sweetened beverages, as well as processed foods, is primarily to blame for the growing problem of obesity (Nestle & Young). Concerning this, one of the advantages of fast foods is that they not only enable individuals to consume fresh and ready to eat foods but also provide portion-controlled foods. This is due to the fact that fast food restaurants offer various portion sizes, therefore, people are able to purchase the most appropriate food portions that should be consumed. In regard to children, fast food restaurants also offer various portion sizes for children enabling parents to effectively monitor the amount of food or rather calories consumed to avoid cases of obesity.
In order to take advantage of the benefits offered by fast food meals, it is crucial for individuals to opt for healthy food choices from the fast food restaurants such as tuna, fresh juices and low-fat milk. Consuming non-healthy fast food meals such as burgers is also not harmful when people balance their intake of healthy and non-healthy food and engage in regular physical exercises. One of the advantages of fast food restaurants is the availability of calorie counts on the menu boards as well as nutritional facts in pamphlets and posters. It is, therefore, essential to determine the number of calories consumed in every meal to avoid obesity. Furthermore, depending on factors such as age and body weight is essential to choose the appropriate food portion from the variety of portions offered in fast food restaurants to avoid consuming more calories than required.
Binghamton University. “Convenience Leads to Corpulence: Parents and Schools Unintentionally Contribute to Childhood Obesity”. ScienceDaily (2011). http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110406091738.htm. Accessed (29th September 2017).
Clark, Sarah. “The Advantages and Disadvantages of Fast food”. Fast Food Nation (2016). http://www.fastfoodnation.co.uk/advantages-disadvantages-fast-food.html. Accessed (29th September 2017).
Diaz, Vera. “Advantages and Disadvantages of Eating Fast food Eating”. Academia (n.d.). http://www.academia.edu/7663896/Advantages_and_Disadvantages_of_Eating_Fast_Food_Eating. Accessed (29th September 2017).
Poti, Jennifer M., Kiyah J Duffey, and Barry M Popkin. “The Association of Fast Food Consumption with Poor Dietary Outcomes and Obesity among Children: Is it the Fast Food or the Remainder of the Diet?”. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2013; 99 (1): 162 DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.113.071928
Stein, Natalie. “What Are the Benefits of Fast food s?”. Livestrong (2017). https://www.livestrong.com/article/259534-what-are-the-benefits-of-fast-foods/ Accessed (29th September 2017).
MahaSheikh. “Advantages and Disadvantages of Fast foods”. Health & Cure (2016). https://www.healthncure.org/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-fast-foods/ Accessed (29th September 2017).
Nestle, Marion, and Young, Lisa. “The Contribution of Expanding Portion Sizes to the US Obesity Epidemic”. National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447051/. Accessed (29th September 2017).
Untaru. Elena. “Why Do Young People Prefer Fast-Food Restaurants? An Exploratory Study”. Academia (n.d). Issue 15. Pp. 27-34
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