Why we eat what we eat

Christian Ellenburg


Today’s children, ages 8 to 18, consume multiple types of media (often simultaneously) and spend more time (44.5 hours per week) in front of computer, television, and game screens than any other activity in their lives except sleeping. Research has found strong associations between increases in advertising for non-nutritious foods and rates of childhood obesity. Most children under age 6 cannot distinguish between programming and advertising and children under age 8 do not understand the persuasive intent of advertising. Advertising directed at children this young is by its very nature exploitative. Children have a remarkable ability to recall content from the ads to which they have been exposed. 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.


MCDONALD'S opened its first restaurant in San Bernardino, California in 1948, and it has been spreading the gospel of fast food ever since. Its 35,000 restaurants in 107 countries generated sales of over $89 billion in 2013. But as our print-edition article this week discusses, McDonald’s has been struggling of late, thanks in part to stiffer competition. Our interactive map shows where some of America’s biggest fast-food chains are fighting it out (Burger King, which is privately held, is not included). McDonald’s tends to dominate in western Europe. KFC, which is known for their fried chicken, reigns supreme in China and much of Asia. Its parent company, Yum Brands, has been expanding rapidly in China: the number of KFC outlets has increased by 59% there over the past five years and surpassed the American total in 2013. But on outlets alone, Subway is the new bastion of American fast-food culture. The privately-owned company, which started out in 1965, has 43,000 restaurants in 108 countries across the world. It is now the leader across much of Asia, the Americas, and in America itself.


The fast food industry has become a focus of media criticism for its apparent lack of interest in environmental and nutritional issues. Demonstrates the scale of the industry′s response and provides an objective assessment of current initiatives which have been specifically designed to improve the image of fast food companies. The greatest momentum for change has inevitably been associated with the major American fast food chains which are introducing more environmentally‐friendly packaging, accessory‐recycling and lower fat products. In the process they are gaining a competitive advantage over smaller domestic fast food companies and this fact alone will ensure the introduction of more initiatives in the future. Care for the environment and for consumer health have consequently become high‐profile marketing concerns.


You've probably seen touch-screen kiosks and self-checkout lanes in grocery stores and post offices. They give customers more freedom, ease long lines and, in some cases, cut labor costs. They're also popping up in fast food restaurants such as Jack in the Box, Burger King, McDonald's, and Carl's Jr., among other systems. These contactless payment kiosks often include colorful, animated touch-screen menus that give customers the option to browse through the entire menu, customize their order, and then pay with cash or a credit card. Something many customers really like. And there's even more on the horizon. McDonald's has been experimenting with drive-through speaker systems that connect to order-takers in a remote call center. Of course, technology can't always replace the human touch. If customers need any help or simply don't want to use the kiosks, there are always eager employees on hand.


Most people are aware of the negative effects a fast food diet can have on the body, such as weight gain, but far fewer are likely aware of its effects on the brain. The brain, like the rest of the body, relies on the key nutrients from healthy foods to function properly. Regularly consuming fast food can lead to debilitating mental effects including depression.


A hamburger and french fries started to become a staple in the American diet in the 1940’s as a result of the clever marketing of fast food chains. Today, in the 21st century, it is estimated that the average American consumes approximately three hamburgers and four orders of fries every week. For most, fast food is considered to be an ingrained part of life, forgetting that what we eat is really a choice and that choice affects physical health. Applying the well-known techniques of brainwashing was indeed, and continues to be heavily enforced, and this industry’s marketing techniques have been very successful.


The ridiculous claim that corporations are responsible for people’s health problems is nothing new. Remember the lawsuits against the tobacco companies? If you smoke let me ask you this: did an employee from one of the tobacco companies put a gun to your head and make you smoke a cigarette? I didn’t think so. People who are dying because of smoking-related illnesses have nobody to blame but themselves. And it’s the same for people who eat poorly. I have never seen Ronald McDonald with an M-16 forcing people to buy Big Macs. A person has to drive to McDonald’s, order a Big Mac, and eat it on his own.

Culture and Customs

What has the fast food industry done to our nation? Fast food has been around for a long time but in the past few years’ people have been eating out at these fast food franchises quite. The average American probably eats out at a fast food restaurant four to five times a week (Murphy). People now are getting lazy and are not cooking nutritious meals for their families. Instead those families are going out eating fatty and greasy foods. There are many factors that have caused Americans to eat out such as advertisement. It is obvious that in today’s society more heath problems are now arising due to this fast food craze. But first take a look at how fast food became such a popular way of eating and living.


Fast food has taken over many parts of France and Italy which is very uncommon for the old generations because they are more used to traditional dinners with the whole family.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The Dietary Guidelines is required under the 1990 National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act, which states that every 5 years, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) must jointly publish a report containing nutritional and dietary information and guidelines for the general public. The statute (Public Law 101-445, 7 U.S.C. 5341 et seq.) requires that the Dietary Guidelines be based on the preponderance of current scientific and medical knowledge. The 2015-2020 edition of the Dietary Guidelines builds from the 2010 edition with revisions based on the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and consideration of Federal agency and public comments.

Weight Management

When The Fast Food Diet book was published in 2006, choices included Burger King French Toast Sticks, Panda Express Beef and Broccoli, McDonald’s Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken, and even a Double Chocolate Chip Cookie from Subway. Sinatra maintains a web site that may provide more information about better fast-food choices.

Fried foods are not part of the plan, so you’ll have to say goodbye to the fries. Sodas sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup are also off-limits.

But you may not miss them. Sinatra offers suggestions for better substitutions for some of your favorites and easy tips for cutting fat and calories while still enjoying a diet mainly from fast food restaurants.

Alcohol is allowed in moderation. You can enjoy an occasional glass of wine or a cocktail and sip it slowly, savoring it, so you don’t want more.

Physical Activity Needs

  1. On a scale of 0 to 10, where sitting is a 0 and the highest level of activity is a 10, moderate-intensity activity is a 5 or 6. When your son does moderate-intensity activity, his heart will beat faster than normal and he will breathe harder than normal. Vigorous-intensity activity is a level 7 or 8. When your son does vigorous-intensity activity, his heart will beat much faster than normal and he will breathe much harder than normal.
  2. Another way to judge intensity is to think about the activity your child is doing and compare it to the average child. What amount of intensity would the average child use? For example, when your daughter walks to school with friends each morning, she's probably doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity. But while she is at school, when she runs, or chases others by playing tag during recess, she's probably doing vigorous-intensity activity.

Nutritional Labels on packages

The information in the main or top section can vary with each food product; it contains product-specific information (serving size, calories, and nutrient information). The bottom part (see #5 on the sample label below) contains a footnote with Daily Values (DVs) for 2,000 and 2,500 calorie diets. This footnote provides recommended dietary information for important nutrients, including fats, sodium and fiber. The footnote is found only on larger packages and does not change from product to product.