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Emmanuella Derilus

Obesity in America
By: Emmanuella Derilus
College Now Course - SCI 1

As a whole the United States can be considered the biggest fast food restaurant in the world. The United States is the home to the most famous and advertised "fast food joints" such as McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. The food we consume is an essential factor to who we are. In combining the corporations and their consumers, there are billions of dollars spent on hamburgers annually. So, it is no surprise that the United States is the number one obese country on the globe. Obesity is becoming an epidemic that must be taken care of.

America is known to be the number one fast food selling nation, in which obesity is one of the major problems. It is reported that "Two-thirds of American adults are overweight, and half of these are obese." (Lambert, 50). The effect of food on consumers is illustrated by Morgan Spurlock's experiment. After spending thirty days of strictly eating products from McDonald's, his physical condition, which was healthy and slim at first, deteriorated as time elapsed. He reported that his "body just basically fell apart" (Lambert, 50). Not only does food affect the size of the body, but also the behavior of the consumers as well. "I start to get tired, I start to get headaches; my liver basically starts to fill up with fat because there's so much fat and sugar in this food. My blood sugar skyrockets, my cholesterol goes up off the charts, my blood pressure becomes completely unmanageable. The doctors were like, 'You have to stop,' (Lambert, 50).

The food we eat has a major effect on our bodies and behaviors. The things we eat determine our health. People who eat well live longer and healthier lives. Soy milk, tofu, soy nuts and soybeans all help lower cholesterol. They are healthy to consume. Dairy products such as yogurt and milk provide calcium. Calcium lessens chances of bone fractures as you grow older. The fast food nation is growing stronger as the years go by. Many people eat fast food because it's cheap and easy to get. Eric Schlosser states "I ate an enormous amount of fast food. Most of it tasted pretty good. That is one of the main reasons people buy fast food; it has been carefully designed to taste good. It's also inexpensive and convenient."(Schlosser, 9) Fast food has large amounts of sodium which can cause high blood pressure and heart attacks. It also contains large amounts of Trans fat. That can lead; to clogged arteries. Fast food is made exactly the way it sounds, fast. Americans need to start making healthier decisions to help decrease the obesity rate.

Americans are spending about one hundred and twenty four billion dollars in fast food each year. (Spurlock, 19) These foods that taste so good can also be a bad thing for our health. The sugar, sodium and Trans fat are what make the food so tasty. Why stay away from that? The fast food industry has been encouraging us to eat. Their prices are convenient. They serve larger portions compared to other restaurants. According to Fortune Magazine, unsaturated oil is unable to produce the crispy texture and the pleasing taste that we love. We can see that fast foods will not be healthier for those reasons. They said it well; it will be too expensive to use saturated oil in the food they produce. What you eat not only affecfs your physical health, but it also affects your mental health. Refined sugar has gotten worldwide attention for being a factor in the conditions of obesity. Now, refined sugar is said to have negative effects on mental health. On average, a soft drink contains 100 g/L of sugar. (Lien & Lien Heyerdahl & Thoresen & Bjertness, 1815-1820). The report, Changing Diets, Changing Minds drew on data from more than 500 studies and concluded that "food can have an immediate and lasting effect upon a person's mental health and behavior because of the way it affects the structure and function of the brain." (Feeding Minds, 28) The foods we eat have a high effect on our mentality because we choose to eat packaged foods that contain high concentrations of salt, fat, sugar, and addictives. The food industry loves it and continues to create other kinds of package food. There are over 320,000 different packaged foods on the market. As a result we grow fewer crops and prepare less fresh foods: (Feeding Minds, 28) The research for the report, Changing Diets, Changing Minds, indicates that since 1942 we have come to find that there has been a 34% decline in the amount of vegetables we consume and a 59% decrease in the amount of fish, milk, and eggs. As we eat less good food we begin to eat more of the bad. Since 1942 there has been a 30% increase of refined cereals and sugar to our diets. (Feeding Minds, 28) To be healthy we must make healthy choices about what we eat. Fruits and vegetables can boost brain chemicals that help produce mental serenity. Psychology Professor Peter Rogers from Bristol University states:)"if you eat a healthy diet it will potentially protect the brain." (Noble, 47)

Healthy eating can prevent 80% of cases of heart disease and diabetes and help ward off hypertension, osteoporosis, and some forms of cancer. Research done in the 1990s showed that you can lower your risk for the most serious diseases of our time by following a healthy diet. Research also showed that people should shift the emphasis away from low-fat diets (and instead) it urges people to eat unsaturated fats, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and to exercise daily. (Sacks, 4). The saying, "you are what you eat" is true. Your health is determined by the types of foods your body consumes. People that are unaware of their health are more likely to eat nachos with cheese as a snack as opposed to a person that is aware of their health who will most likely have fruits. It is impossible for all of us to have a farm or garden in our backyards where we cultivate our own foods. However, we can buy organic foods and make a healthy choice instead of spending the money on processed foods.

Feeding Minds. Ecologist, Apr 2006.
Frank M. Sacks. Healthy Eating Harvard Special Health Reportt. February 2006.
Lambert, Craig. The Way We Eat Now. Harvard Magazine, May-June 2004.
Lien, Lars. Lien, Nanna, Heyerdahl, Sonja, Thoresen, Magne, Bjertness,
Espen. Consumption of Soft Drinks and Hyperactivitv, Mental Distress, and Conduct Problems among Adolescents in Oslo. Norway. American Journal of Public Health, Oct 2006.
Noble, Kate. You Really Are What You Eat. Time Europe, Feb 2003.
Schlosser, Eric. The Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-Am Meal.
New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.
Spurlock, Morgan. Don't Eat This Book. New York: Penguin Group Inc., 2005.