The fast food industry has expanded significantly in many countries globally. Fast food encompasses all mass-produced food for sale and it prioritizes the speed of service over other culinary factors. The commercial strategy is to handle many customers at a time without elaborate serving or dining. Fast food is usually pre-cooked and kept almost ready in anticipation of the customer’s arrival. The waiting times in efficient chains is reduced to up to a few seconds. Other outlets use pre-prepared ingredients which are mass prepared to avoid a longer waiting period. Fast food commercially refers to food which is preheated or frozen and served to the customer in a take-away format. Hence, fast foods are characterized by the limited menu, per-prepared, and counter service.
Fast food menus range from a few products on the list. Outlets focus on easier to cook meals to enhance their efficiency and adhere to the mass-production model. Examples of fast food include chips, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and fried chicken. For instance, McDonald’s fries are a popular option among many people. The food is already prepared and may be heated before it is served to the customers. The range of fast food ranges from one region to the next. For instance, while chips and chicken are served in virtually all countries, tacos and burritos may be less geographically distributed. Besides, fast food restaurants offer drinks and other refreshments. Customers can purchase milkshakes and soft drinks in addition to their foods, including pizza. Hence, fries, pizzas, burgers, and fried chicken are particularly described as fast food by many people.
Adverse environmental effects, including water, carbon emissions, and waste disposal, are tied with the operations of fast food restaurants. Many forms of pollution during the preparation and service of quick service meals. Short-term effects include trash in the streets and greenhouse gas emissions. The carbon footprint of the industry is high due to the mass production of food. The supply chain involves the production of meats and their transport to the consumers. Besides, packaging involves the use of plastics and other biodegradable materials. The many customers translate into billions of tons of waste globally. The long-term environmental effects include climate change due to the unsustainable energy practices. The high greenhouse gases will lead to the increase of temperature in the atmosphere. In addition, water pollution is a significant concern in the industry. Chemicals, fertilizers, and drugs used in the production of fast food are released into the ecosystem. The hazards affect aquatic life, which affects water quality. Hence, fast foods have a significant impact on the environment.
Fast food is associated with poor health due to its lower nutritional values. The short-term health effects include a lack of a balanced diet and eating processed foods. Fast foods have lower nutritional value since they are inorganic and rarely incorporate vegetables. The long-term effects of fast food affect public health. According to Fuhrman, lifestyle conditions, including obesity, are linked to the consumption of fast foods (375). The author notes that eating processed foods and fast foods is more likely to kill people prematurely as compared to cigarette smoking. The number of obese individuals is high in developed countries, including the United States. The phenomena can be attributed to fast food. These poor health issues affect the quality of life and contribute to decreased life expectancy. In this regard, people consuming fast foods have poorer health outcomes in the population.
The pricing of fast foods influences the weekly consumption of fast food consumption. Individuals, families, and the society contributes to the growth of the industry due to the high demand for quick serve meals. However, an increase in the price of fast food has a negative impact on its accessibility. Gordon-Larsen et al.’s study suggests that a 20% increase in prices leads to a drop of 0.25 in consumption (1237). Both individual-level and community-level intake is affected by price fluctuations. While home cooked meals remain the most prevalent form of nutrition, the increasing number of people eating at least once a day at fast food restaurants is a concerning trend. The society channels a large portion of its resources into the industry despite the limited health benefits of fast foods. Therefore, fast food costs impact the access to food at the individual, family, and society levels.
Lifestyle diseases are associated with high consumption of fast foods. While some large fast food companies are offering healthier foods, the menus are largely unhealthy. Fuhrman indicates that the high levels of obesity experienced in the U.S. can be attributed to the consumption of fast foods (375). The number of children suffering from overweight issues continues to rise among fast food customers. Young people prefer to eat at fast food restaurants due to their appeal and their limited knowledge on the nutritional value of the food. Besides, adults also experience problems associated with being overweight or obese. Other conditions related to obesity include increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Therefore, increased consumption of fast foods is associated with higher risk of heart attack, obesity, and strokes.
Industry and health concerns impact the marketing of fast foods. Public health policies aim to reduce the consumption of fast foods due to their poor dietary contents. While imposing extra taxation may increase costs, leading to lower demand, there are no regulatory or statutory safeguards to lower the consumption of fast foods. Conversely, consumer appeal continues to enhance the rapid growth of the sector. Many American fast food chains generate significant revenue from their multiple locations globally. The trends and demand for their products enable the industry to grow despite the criticisms. The consistency in the quality of food and the quick service is convenient to many people. Moreover, the marketing approach targets the younger demographics. Nestle contends that food marketing is pervasive and more intense by targeting children in televisions, toys, educational materials, and games (2528). The increase in disposable income in many families contributes to the high expenditure in fast food chains. Hence, although the fast food industry is linked to poorer health outcomes, it uses marketing approaches to encourage the consumption of fast food.
Consumer spending and convenience contributes to the proliferation of fast food organizations. The sellers are efficient and quick due to the standardized and mass preparation of food. The quick service model is convenient to many customers. Increased consumer expenditure is attributable to the growing demand for fast foods. However, the costs are high for many families since price changes led to a decrease in fast food consumption. Moreover, the industry is associated with adverse environmental and health outcomes. The sector is responsible for the growing carbon footprint in the globe. Moreover, issues of lifestyle diseases, including obesity, overweight, and cardiovascular diseases can be linked to the consumption of fast foods. Hence, the industry uses marketing strategy to foster its appeal and attract more customers.
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