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More than Just a Side of Fries: Living in a Fast Food Nation


If you knew something was bad for you, would you still eat it? If you are like most kids then you eat a lot of fast food. In fact in this country, about a quarter of the adult population visits a fast food restaurant on any given day. Did you know that more than 90% of children eat at McDonald's every month? It probably wasn't so long ago that you chomped down on a Big Mac or had a Whopper from Burger King. Americans spend billions of dollars a year on fast food. We spend more on fast food than we do for cars. But you know what? It may not be healthy, can certainly lead to variety of illness, and it is definitely making us fat. But what can we do? Fast food is such a large part of our lives that we probably don't even notice that it's there and rarely stop to think, "Hey, what it's all about?" So let's take a moment to look behind the scenes of the fast food world we live in.

First, you walk up to the counter to place your order. Who is serving you? Probably a teenager. The fast food industry hires the most teenagers. So you get that burger and an order of fries. Do you ever think about where the food is coming from? Most of us probably don't.. McDonald's is the biggest buyer of beef in the United States. The places where the beef come from may be dangerous to your health. This is the case because the meat is filled with chemicals. Also, the workers in these places have to work in scary conditions. This causes them to be injured on the job quite frequently. When we eat a hamburger, we eat those chemicals. Some of these things may not be good for us, at this point no one knows for sure.

Worse than the where the food comes from though, might be what the food does to you. Fast foods are high in calories, and saturated fat. American children now get about 25% of their total vegetable servings in the form of potato chips or french fries. Plus there's the idea that bigger is better. Super size it! Get the triple-decker burger and Biggie Fries. Drink that monster 64 ounce Coke because it's the best deal. But all this comes at a cost. More than half of the adults and nearly 25% of the kids in this country are now overweight or obese. Obesity, which has been linked to many types disease is now second only to smoking as a cause of death. It's not just what we eat, but also how we live that has led to such increased levels of obesity. Doing things like watching television, playing video games or using a computer instead of going outside and exercising. Fast food is only part of the problem.

So the next time you find yourself at a fast food place, take some time to really think about what you are putting into your body. The fast food companies refuse to make the food better for you, so you have to decide what you are going to eat. Think about the health and labor issues that you are supporting by eating there. Maybe instead of going to the drive-thru you could go ride your bike outside; instead of eating that burger, going to the kitchen and making yourself a nutritious meal. I know it sounds kind of crazy, but staying healthy isn't going to be easy. Whatever you decide, just remember that the effects will stay with you forever. Are Big Macs really worth it?


Please email me at: neda@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Rebecca - Eat something! It might save your life
Irene - It's a fact. Women rock!
Jennifer - Some people just have "The Healing Touch"
Stephen - What do 15 million Americans know that you don't? Find out!