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What Is The Relationship Between Fast Food And The Increasing Rate Of Childhood Obesity In The United States?

2398 words - 10 pages

A current controversial issue surrounding our society today is the relationship between fast food restaurants and childhood obesity. Obesity has always been a problem in the United States; however, it has become an even greater problem in recent years. According to the Mayo Clinic, childhood obesity is defined as "when a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height" (Disease and Conditions: Childhood Obesity). Nearly 20 percent of children and adolescents are now overweight and the obesity rate among preschool aged children is increasing at an alarming speed (Childhood Obesity Facts). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Childhood obesity has ...view middle of the document...

In a New York Times article written by Roni Rabin, she reported that, "Ninth graders whose schools are within a block of a fast-food outlet are more likely to be obese" (Rabin). Another article written by the Associated Press shared similar finding,
Fast-food restaurants are clustered within easy walking distance of elementary and high schools, according to a study by Harvard’s School of Public Health. The researchers say the pattern probably exists in urban areas nationwide and is likely contributing to the nation’s obesity epidemic (Associated Press).
This means that, with the large amount of advertising children receive at home and in educational settings, the youth of today are now even more widely exposed and susceptible to fast food advertising. Health professionals believe that children of a young age are very easily persuaded by fast food advertisements, which creates more demand for their product resulting in an increased rate of childhood obesity. The APA state on their website that, "Research has found strong associations between increases in advertising for non-nutritious foods and rates of childhood obesity" (The Impact of Food Advertising…). This research is what has sparked this belief of fast food restaurant's detrimental effects on childhood health. Their belief is that a young child's environment can have a large influence on their future dietary choices; this includes, and is not limited to, television content and advertising seen on billboards and buses. In a research study that was performed by Shin-Yi Chou, Inas Rasha, and Michael Grossman, they analyzed the relationship between the exposure to fast-food advertising and childhood obesity and found that there was, "a strong positive effect of exposure to fast-food restaurants advertising on the probability the children and adolescents are overweight" (616). This meant that the more fast food advertising a child viewed, the greater the probability of the child or adolescent becoming overweight. The APA supports this on their website through their statement that, "Product preference has been shown to occur with as little as a single commercial exposure and to strengthen with repeated exposures. Product preferences affect children's product purchase requests and these requests influence parents' purchasing decisions"(The Impact of Food Advertising…). A child's product preference can have a huge impact on a parent's purchasing decisions and the APA noted on their website that with increased frequency of views of fast food advertisements the product preference for their products increase as well. This results in an increased purchase and consumption of the unhealthy fast food. Health professionals believe that this is a major factor in the increasing rate of childhood obesity in America.
There are many other groups of people who share the belief that fast food restaurants should be held responsible for the rise in obesity rates over the years. One such person/group is Morgan...

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