More Than We Can Chew
How long does a Big Mac haunt its consumers? Every day the fast food industry continues to prosper off its loyal customers. In the 1950s the industry boomed and from there would become an unbeatable market force that used resources as fast as they could sell food. And today the average individual spends $1,200 at fast-food restaurants every year. With most of the world encouraging fast food, the social cost is swept under the rug. Under this rug is the accumulation of extra health care money, pollution, and the overbearing effects of obesity. The more we consume, the larger the pile becomes.
We can look at the pile through massive amounts of data on the internet. Over one-third of the population in America suffer from obesity. And America is in fourteenth place for the highest obesity rates. In congruence with our obesity rates being high are the incomes of fast food restaurants. There are 197,163 fast-food places in America. Over fifty of these establishments make hundreds of millions of dollars, some even billions. These restaurants are so popular but aren’t helping their customers in the long run.
To start things off, the expenses in potential insurance surpass that of any Big Mac. According to the research report, “A Heavy Burden,” “the overall, tangible, annual costs of being obese are $4,879 for an obese woman and $2,646 for an obese man.” These costs easily double the average amount an individual spends on fast food annually without the addition of the value of lost life. The value of lost life is the sum of income someone would have received had they been alive which is increased as obesity shaves off a person’s lifespan. And if anyone were to account that into the equation of money lost to obesity, the numbers would become more and more significant.
Second, fast food decreases productivity. The limitations that come with obesity affect a person’s paycheck. The research done by the authors of A Heavy Burden, states the productivity between normal and obese people has caused incremental costs from $54 to $575 per obese person. They gathered evidence from different researchers that all came up with a dollar amount that results from reduced productivity.
Finally, Fast food’s popularity harms the environment. Fast food has boosted the food consumption rate as they have increased portion sizes. And the food consumption rate has promoted the large industrialization of meat production. According to “From the Lab to the Supermarket” thirty percent of the viable earth is used by livestock systems. The author Trae Norton also states that meat production alone produces around twenty percent of total current greenhouse gas emissions.
A food product that is in constant demand creates stress on production forming an unnatural source of pain for the environment. In the process of making meat a lot of waste is left to fester in our environment. Norton even writes, “As of 1997, animals in the U.S. industrial production system produced a grand total of approximately 1.4 billion tons of waste.”And in addition to the animal waste is the water pollution produced by the pesticides used in industrial grain farms that contributes to the decrease in water quality in rivers and streams. So all the mouthwatering goodness in a Big Mac or a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese are the residual effects that impact the environment.
Not only have land animals been affected, but fast food’s reach has extended to fish as well. The act of fish farming has domesticated fish to increase food production. Again Trae Norton announces its effects upon the environment, writing that “fish farming also has potential ecological effects that include “habitat destruction, nutrient discharge, and chemical pollution.” Wild fish species are believed to have fewer cancer-causing pollutants than farm-raised fish. The fast food industry is constantly expanding to increase business while harming the environment.
In India, they have associated fast food with negative social consequences. Since they correlate the connection between increased fast food consumption to increased weight gain and obesity, researchers have also attached the physical and emotional consequences that come with obesity. These consequences are the depletion of a children’s ability to learn, socialize, and participate in extracurriculars. According to Sarah Jain, “The impact of fast-food consumption on individuals, especially children represents nothing less than a long-term public health crisis that requires policy interventions.” In her research paper “Analyzing The Public Health Crisis in India Fueled by the Growth of the Fast-Food Industry” she describes how India has taken notice of the overbearing negative effects of fast food and is trying to induce a fat tax to battle them.
Fast food largely targets children to keep business flowing too. Their bright and colorful advertising is definitely not for the adults to enjoy, but to entice the children. These children, not knowing any better, are reeled into a habit of enjoying fast food. This habit makes sweeping all the food’s drawbacks under the rug so much easier. The paper “Trend of Fast Food Consumption and its Effect on Pakistani Society” goes even further into fast food and its strategies to target specific crowds in Pakistan. The authors go so far as to name the consequences that are under the rug by blatantly stating:
“The ill consequence of fast food and the probable hazard that it possesses by its usual eating is outrageous. Chubbiness, increase in cholesterol levels, dietary deficiencies, cardiac disorders, loss of muscle mass, depression, sexual dysfunction, asthma, strokes, type 2 diabetes, cancer (kidney / uterine / colon / breast / esophagus), liver disease, and cardiovascular diseases can all be caused by eating fast food on a regular basis.”
All the negative health concerns are what strove some countries like India, Pakistan, and the UK to demote fast food in the economy. Each country takes a different approach to attack, but the reason is constant. That they find fast food as a public health enemy. And while governments strive to protect the public’s health, scientists are working to improve the food industry with new ways of production like lab-grown meat.
Dor, A., Ferguson, C., Langwith, C., & Tan, E. (2010). A heavy burden: The individual costs of being overweight and obese in the United States. Washington, D.C.: Department of Health Policy, School of Public Health and Health Services, The George Washington University. https://hsrc.himmelfarb.gwu.edu
Jain, Sarah. “ANALYZING THE PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS IN INDIA FUELED BY THE GROWTH OF THE FAST-FOOD INDUSTRY.” Www.ijsser.org, Mar. 2020, https://ijsser.org/2020files/ijsser_05__53.pdf.
Norton, T. (2021). From the Lab to the Supermarket: In Vitro Meat as a Viable Alternative to Traditional Meat Production. Journal of Food Law & Policy, 11(1). https://scholarworks.uark.edu
Yahya, F., Zafar, R., & Shafiq, S. (2013). Trend of fast food consumption and its effect on Pakistani society. Food Science and Quality Management, 11, 1-7. https://www.researchgate.net
You haven’t asked for any specific sort of Feedback, Mocha. You should. I’m easily distracted by opening paragraphs and often waste an hour reacting to it or the next thing that catches my attention while neglecting what you really wanted to know because you didn’t share your preferences with me.
I notice several similarities in structure to my Polio/Smallpox model. If that’s deliberate, it seems a good strategy. If it’s accidental, maybe my demonstration influenced you subliminally. I’ll read more carefully to see if the technique worked for you, unless . . .
you’d rather I concentrate on something else.
I was just putting it into feedback please right away. I was planning on specifying but was trying to figure out what I wanted to be critiqued. I wasn’t expecting you to look at it so quickly. I know I’ll have to change up the start of the essay and the conclusion. However, for the main paragraphs should I add more citations and quotes to help as evidence, and should I make more of a comparison to the mentioned lab-grown meat in the second paragraph throughout the whole thing?
Thanks for the specific instructions, Mocha. I’m here only to acknowledge that you’ve asked. See you soon for real Feedback.
I have to say, Mocha, having read and admired your summaries in the White Paper, I’m disappointed to see so little hard evidence here in your Definition Argument. We could easily summarize your 1000 words here as: Fast Food bad. Portions too big. Excess calories cause obesity.
This paragraph (not the only one) is a good example of WAY too many words chasing too few ideas:
The White Paper promised a clever Definition of the Social Cost of a Big Mac (or fast food in general), which in turn promised considerations of the dollar costs of medical care for obese customers, lost productivity, the environmental costs of devoting so much of our land resources to foods that feed so few people, etc. Almost none of that is here.
I’m also surprised to see new sources not named in your White Paper, which makes me wonder where and when you took a turn and landed on this much less inventive and much too pedestrian conventional critique of the “big portions” approach to feeding hungry Americans.
You can do better.
Sorry, my mind must wandered when writing this paper. I’ll do my best to get it back on track by making some major changes.
must have wandered not must wandered
Was this rewrite more towards the target goal?
I’ll answer that general question in a few minutes, Mocha, but first, this:
I admire the first sentence of your new opening, Mocha. You surrender your advantage immediately, but you establish a strong presence to begin.
—As your sixth and seventh sentences indicate, the BM haunts more than just individual consumers. If you’re going Rhetorical, why not go for broke? How long does it 1) Sicken its customers, 2) Heat the atmosphere, 3) Taint the water, 4) Gobble up arable land, 5) Clear the rainforests, 6) Raise the sea level, etc. . . . ?
—Granted, but if you’re not going to nail down the claim with the observation that it profits off the customers it fattens, whose arteries it clogs, . . . ., then it’s a wasted sentence.
—Good sentence but its value is not apparent. If you're citing history, prepare us for the relevance to today. "In the 1950s, before we appreciated the irreversible damage caused by wanton exploitation of the earth, fast food giants became . . . an unbeatable market force that used resources as fast as they could sell food." See the balance needed to drive your point?
—If you’re going to nail this point with a statistic about the average cost of health care for obese Americans, I’m with you. Can you do that? What are average American annual expenditures for diet-related health care treatment?
—Doesn’t quite nail your point. Am I wrong in suggesting that what you mean is “Individual consumers feel helpless to slow the fast food juggernaut, but increasingly, healthy eaters are boycotting the $22 Big Mac.”
—It would be great if you could come up with a dramatic number that estimates the REAL COST of a fast food sandwich when the social and health costs are factored.
Is that advice applicable to the rest of your argument? Or do you need additional feedback before you revise again?
Yes, it’s better, Mocha. (But I spend Zero Time comparing first drafts with new drafts. I merely react to the draft before me.)
You have embarked on a numerical proof, Mocha: What’s the Cost? So your statistics are your evidence, and your evidence has to be logical and very relevant.
This one does not track:
Only one of these is useful to you:
The math on this one is incomplete:
—Therefore, the Big Mac that an obese MacDonald’s customer bought for $4 in 2022 actually cost between $8 and $12 when factoring in associated healthcare costs alone!
This one is not specific enough to be useful:
—Is this an annual cost?
Do what you can to numericalize these costs:
I’m not convinced that animal waste is a necessary cost. Numericalize it if you can.
And so on.
Very helpful. I usually like using numbers to argue for they are harder to argue against if it’s factual data, so thank you for helping me improve and fix the use of them in the essay