Negative Impacts of Fast Food and Obesity in the United States

The United States has been experiencing an exponential increase in obese people, with obesity becoming a public health problem. Several factors are linked to an exponential rise in obesity rates in the U.S., including increased fast food consumption. The consumption of fast food has increased alarmingly alongside the obesity rates. Fast food is characterized by excess calories intake and escalates the risk of obesity due to increased energy density and large portion size of the foods. Increased fast food consumption and the exponential rise in obesity significantly influence the U.S. healthcare system and economy.


The growth in fast consumption and the resulting increase in obesity is associated with multiple long-term chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, liver diseases, gall bladder illness, some cancers, and even premature deaths. In “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, 2013”, Michael Moss noted that over half of the American adult population fell in the category of overweight people, and about 25% or 40 million of the adult population were critically categorized as obese. Obesity rates among American children more than doubled between 1980 and 2013, with the figure rising past 12 million as of 1999, a figure the author believed was much higher at the time of writing the paper.

Today one in five children are obese, along with one in every three adults. The food manufacturers are blamed for the ever-escalating rise in obesity from all angles, from the academia, CDC, and American cancer society, among other concerned institutions. The U.S. secretary of agriculture, a docket where food manufacturing lies, declared obesity a national epidemic (Moss). Besides, about 24 million Americans are affected by type 2 diabetes, mostly linked to poor diet, and 79 million others are exposed to pre-diabetes. The painful type of arthritis, grout, afflicts about eight million Americans. This was once a “rich man’s disease” because of its linked to gluttony (Moss). That is how overconsumption of fast food and obesity impact American health. Of course, the cost is on the healthcare systems as millions of dollars are spent on treating preventable diseases.

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Is there anything that can be done about the situation? Of course, yes, but quite challenging because industrial food has intensively encroached on the food ecosystem. As In the “Escape from the Western Diet,” Michael Pollan referenced the words of Denis Burkit, an English doctor working in Africa who argues that one way we can escape from ‘nutritionism,’ and consecutively, the impact of the Western diet is to go back to traditional food and lifestyle our ancestors lived. But this is a daunting task given the hazardous food environments humans now inhabit and the lack of cultural tools to direct people on how to transition to traditional food. But Pollan offers a solution, hiding Burkit’s call to go backwards, but not to the bush because that may not be viable today. Instead, we need to invest more time, resources, and effort to eat well. That is something lacking in America today. Americans spend nearly below 10% of their earnings on food, under 30 minutes a day to prepare a meal, and less than an hour to enjoy what we have cooked (Pollan). So to get rid of the high-calorie fast food, we need to go a bit native and spend our time and resources gathering, preparing, and enjoying a meal.

Programs such as Healthy Corners can also enhance healthy eating by increasing the availability of healthy food. Healthy Corners sustainably magnifies access to healthy foods in D.C.’s food deserts. They deliver healthy snacks and fresh produce to corner stores in low-income regions in smaller amounts than typical distributors. Size is the primary challenge making many American convenience and corner stores, not stock vegetables and fruits. Most distributors require a larger minimum order to deliver—something like 250 apples, which is challenging for small shops selling two dozen apples weekly. Smaller shops who opt to stock such produce may buy at consumer price and still require refrigeration, which is costly. The Healthy Corners program is eliminating such obstacles. D.C. Central Kitchen owns a fleet of trucks to deliver foods to transitional homes and homeless shelters and uses the same platform to deliver produce to corner shops because it has a substantial buying power due to its many facilities (Khazan, 2015). With more of the Healthy Corners program, we can increase access to healthy foods in many areas without full-service groceries and promote a healthy diet. A change in overall lifestyle to embrace physical activities and a healthy diet is also necessary to reduce the rate of obesity in the country. Taking a little walk in your free time instead of watching television can change a lot.

Overall, the rate of obesity in the United States is getting out of hand, mostly escalated by increased consumption of faster food. The impact to the Americans health is evidence, including high prevalence of chronic diseases and high cost on the healthcare systems. Getting out of the problem requires changing lifestyle patterns, including increasing the time, resources, and energy allocated to the gathering and preparing and enjoying meals.  


Michael Moss, “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food”

Michael Pollan, “Escape from the Western Diet” Olga Khazan, “Why Don’t Convenience Stores Sell Better Food?”