Kari E. Busard
Western Illinois University
Research concerning the relationship between obesity in children and adults and fast-food restaurants thus far has been limited. Much of the hypotheses made in regard to the effect that consumption of fast food has on the overall body mass index (BMI) is what you would expect – that one’s BMI increases with consumption of fast food items due to high calorie intake. In addition to nutritional info, there are various other factors that studies examine in order to better understand the choices and effects. These factors include but are not limited to media influence, proximity to fat food locations, and parents influence over children. In the past 2 years there have been measures put into place by the Federal Government in order to provide all the necessary information to consumer about what they are choosing to buy and consume. For example, in 2010 US Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, requiring nutritional labeling for all menu items for fast food locations. As new laws and regulations are passed; continued and additional research is needed to understand the behaviors of individuals in regard to choosing food items outside of the home.
Obesity and the World The construct of our world has changed much over the past 50 years with advancements in entertainment, technology, and daily life processes. We are a nation bound by our environment rich with information at our fingertips and a vast amount of shops and restaurants all within our grasp with relative ease. With our lifestyle’s changing, come various choices that seem easy and convenient, but all together may not be best for our overall health. More specifically, with fast food, or convenience food, locations seemingly on every corner, we must examine how consuming these “easy” foods has affected our health as a whole. First, let’s get some understanding about ourselves. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) (2001) obesity has more than doubled since 1980 worldwide. Obesity and overweight are defined as “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health.” The medical and mathematical process for calculating obesity is using the formula for Body Mass index, or BMI. BMI is the ratio of weight to height of an individual. It is the amount of a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of his height in meters (kg/m2). A BMI of 25 or greater is overweight and a BMI of 30 or greater is obese. So far, the calculation of BMI is the most reliable tool for assessing if someone is overweight or obese, however, it may not accurately describe the fatness of children accurately due to a different body ratio throughout development compared to adults. (Hung-Hao, Nayga, 2010) Now that we understand how to identify what obesity is, we can now examine the statistics. According to WHO (2001), “in 2008, 1.5 billion adults, 20 and older, were overweight. Of these over 200 million men and nearly 300 million women were obese. Furthermore, nearly 43 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2010.” (2001) Being overweight and obese has immense effects on one’s health. Health complications that can be attributed to obesity are diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. WHO also reports that no less than 2.8 million adults die east year as a direct result from being overweight or obese. This makes obesity the fifth leading cause for death worldwide. So why such an increase in our weight? Why is a factor that is completely within our control killing so many around the globe? Through my research, I will examine various factors that influence out eating out choices, specific to fast food restaurants. Though research is limited in this area, I will attempt to show that there is a direct correlation between the consumption of food and beverage items from fast food restaurants, such as