Are Fast Foods Causing Childhood Obesity

About 22 million of total population of children under 5 worldwide are overweight.

Approximately 1 in every 4 American children is obese. There has been a steady increase in the childhood obesity population since early 1960s. All factors that are responsible for energy intake and usage of energy are the most prevalent factors for obesity or getting overweight. Obesity occurs when energy intake is much higher than the energy consumption. Consumption of more caloric foods and living a sedentary life are the most common causes of obesity. Since 1950s, fast foods have replaced the nutritious and staple diets due to their convenient availability, good taste and reasonable price.

Fast food industries are gaining their importance in our society by their extremely expressive and influential advertisement plans.

Children who are addicted to television programmes get attracted by the advertisements on television. Large posters and active participation by celebrities are good enough to lure children. Pictures and videos showing delicious burgers, pizza, fries loaded with delicious cheese spreads, high caloric dips etc. fascinate children a lot. So, children get more interested to buy and eat them. You can never avoid driving down a highway without looking at advertisements and restaurant strips publicizing their lovely burgers, tasty pastries, delightful creamy chocolates or yummy pizza and chunky fries combined with soft drinks.

A study was done by Shin-Yi Chou, Inas Rashad, and Michael Grossman to study the effect of fast food industry and health.

They took into account number of hours of fast food advertisements, age of child, race of child, gender of the child, the number of hours of television viewing per week, total income of the family, overweight history in family, and employment status. Though not much significant effects were found due to advertisement durations and frequency, but it can still increase the chances of a child to get more tempted to fast foods and become overweight. Increasing the duration by half an hour per week can increase the probability of the child to get overweight also increases by 1.6% in boys and 1.1% in girls of 3-11 years of age. These figures changes to 2.1% in boys and to 4.3% in girls in teenage mass. Thus, as per the Body Mass Index, increasing the advertisement duration by half an hour will increase the body mass index of a boy by 2% and 1% in a girl.

BMI increases with age and the chances of getting overweight decreases in children with 3-11 years of age.

Children who are brought up under high income standards are less likely to gain more weight. Hispanic boys and black girls are prone to get overweight.

Some Amazing Facts:

  • McDonald’s = A Big Mac + French fries + large Coke = 1500 calories
  • A Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Meal = chicken drumsticks + coleslaw + mashed potatoes gravy + Pepsi = 920 calories
  • A Taco Supreme Pintos + Cheese = Taco Bell = 400 calories

Today’s marketing strategies are also using the emotion of children as their trump card.

Giving a toy with every meal, providing dreamy play areas are very efficient marketing approaches. Falling into these traps, innocent children and family do not consider the reality and forget what they consume are very high in fat, salt and sugar.

How Lack of Exercise Complicates the Situation Further?

Obesity is not caused because of the presence of fats in our body. It happens when these fats are not burnt on time. They accumulate in large number in specific locations of the body and cause destruction to it. Exercise and other physical activities like playing games and learning martial arts burn these fats completely. But children follow the foot steps of their parents and learn to lead a sedentary life style. They sit and the watch television for hours or chat with their friend on internet enjoying a plate of tasty fast food.

It is not harmful to have these food stuffs occasionally. But taste, convenience of availability and low costs of these foods makes people have them often. It takes not much time for developing an addiction for them. Coupled with the habit of leading an inactive life, laziness and indiscipline make the children obese.

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