Obesity is defined as an excess of fatty mass in the body. It is a condition in which “the natural energy reserve, stored in the fatty tissues of humans…is increased to a point where it is a risk factor for certain health conditions” (The Columbia Encyclopedia). Obesity is now only second to smoking as a major cause of preventable death in America, with more than 400,000 deaths per year associated with related illnesses. Specifically, obesity in children is becoming a growing concern and problem. To illustrate, in California in 2004, a fitness test score (that was given in the public school system) revealed that 28 out of every 100 school age children were overweight. Food industries have had a major impact on what people choose to eat in their every day diets. With the fast paced living in America, it is no wonder why corporations are out to sell their convenient products at whatever cost, no matter the health issues they can bring. Food companies like McDonalds fall into the category of companies that follow the capitalistic norm, and can be held accountable for America’s childhood obesity problem. The McDonalds Corporation begins its vicious cycle by targeting the most easily influenced group—children. Morgan Spurlock made a documentary titled, Super Size Me in which he mentions that the average child sees 10,000 food advertisements per year, and, of those, 95 percent of them are for sugar-containing products. McDonalds is very appealing to children because they have attractive toys, a clown as their mascot, and playgrounds in which to facilitate birthday parties. In 2004, McDonalds spent 1.4 billion dollars in direct media advertising alone (Spurlock, Super Size Me). The Corporation knows that if they can sell their products to the children first, the parents will follow. As every good advertising campaign, the goal is to get as many people to buy the product without thinking about what they are really buying. McDonalds sells the toys and the playgrounds in order to disguise the truth about the saturated fat and sugar found in their food.
Another reason as to why the McDonalds Corporation aids in America’s obesity problem is because they train their employees to get their customers to super size their drinks and fries. For a small cost of forty cents, any consumer can upgrade their small fries and drink to a larger size. The fast food industry strives to provide their consumers with the vast majority of consumption of their product by providing the affordable prices and larger quantities. Therefore, if more of the product is consumed, the more weight that is put on across the waist. In addition, the employees also try to sell the new products before an order is even placed. From personal experience, when a person pulls up to the drive thru window, it is not uncommon for the first thing for the person to hear is, “Would you like to try our new Cinnamon Danishes for only $.99? The consumer is already being targeted and asked to buy a product that the corporation is trying to promote.
Janet Raloff ran a study in which he explored the additives that fast food companies add to their products. Raloff focused on the colorings, preservatives, and processed sugar found in the sodas and in some other food items. Raloff found that the amount of additives found in the purple soda was twelve times the amount of a normal sprite. The same hold true with the orange and pink sodas that are favorites among children. It was also found that the high volumes of sodium found on the French fries possess additive qualities, which is why (he proposes) a person cannot stop eating French fries. While carrying out his study, Raloff also found out that fast food items not only cause obesity, but hyperactivity as well. The Fast food corporations are hurting the population by adding additives, preservatives and high amounts of sugar which all contribute to the