America / Healthcare

Fast Food, Obesity, and Marketing to Children

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Why are fast food chains so prominent in the United States? One answer is that Americans love to buy a well-marketed product.  Heck, we love to buy any product. Fast Food also supports convenience and efficiency that we anxious and busy Americans so dearly appreciate.  Lastly, America houses an “on-the-go” culture in which the drive-through window is appealing.

The large problem with fast food marketing lies not with the adults but with children. Yes, the convenience of a drive-through happy meal is a perk for parents, but McDonald’s and other fast food chains target much of their marketing towards the children of America, and this is a real problem.  Children most frequently request to go to restaurants that are the most fun and entertaining.  To appeal to children McDonald’s has created happy meals with toys, play pins inside or attached to their store, mascots like the Hamburglar and the infamous Ronald, and a website with fun games for children.  Fast food chains have fun environments that appeal to children, but the health of their food is not as appealing.

 10C-Distribution-of-Types-of-Food-in-TV-Advertising-Targeted-to-Children-or-Teens-2007

Obesity rates in the United States have risen sharply over the past 2 decades, and fast food restaurants have played a large role in this increase.  The problem of obesity increases in low-income families.  The major problem in the United States is that there is limited access to high quality, nutrient-rich foods in low-income neighborhoods.  Therefore there is a large problem of access to healthy foods like lean meats, fruits, and vegetables.  Low-income families are therefore more likely to become obese (as studies show) because they are forced to eat energy-dense foods high in sugar and saturated fats that have been made more easily accessible.  Increasing the already large problem of children’s request upon unhealthy fast food is their taste preference for these foods.  The combination of targeted marketing and taste preferable to children has led America to an unhealthy population and increased obesity.

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