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Fast Food Should Not Be Sold in Schools

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Byamba Mr. Cahill ENG 101 STLCC 11 October 2012 Fast food should not be sold in schools Fast food is a breakfast, lunch or dinner choice for many people on a daily basis. It is used as an option to save time, or to satisfy taste and portions. But, what about the health consequences? People know that fast food is not synonymous with healthy living, but many forget this thought process when they are at the counter. Unfortunately, eating fast food on a daily basis does have an adverse effect on children’s health, such as obesity and lack of nutrients.

Therefore, fast food should not be sold in schools. Obesity surpasses smoking in healthcare costs and impact on chronic illness and is on the rise in every country in the world.

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It is spurred on by thousands of years of evolution that have crafted humans into beings that seek out sugar, fat and calories and is caused by a toxic food environment that offers up food as never before. The most startling victims are children. The food industry is granted free and free access to children.

Every day, one-third of American children and youth eat fast food, and it contributes to close to one-fifth of their entire diets, according to research reported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation website. An article in Rolling Stone magazine states that 96 % of U. S. schoolchildren can identify Ronald McDonald; topped only by Santa Claus who is more widely recognized. This familiarity represents just how ingrained fast food is in the U. S. psyche. Early concern about childhood obesity centered on its role in the predicting adult obesity and hence adult diseases.

The author of a book “Food fight” said seventy percent of obese children become obese adult; obesity in children is related to risk for disease as much as fifty years later. He also mentions that clustering of risk factors for heart disease known as insulin resistance syndrome, now identified in children as young as five years old. Children may be at risk for high blood pressure when eating salty junk food such as potato chips, French fries, pretzels, pizza and burritos. Junk food can lead to nutritional deficiencies when children eat it.

Fast-food menus are big on too much protein, fat, sodium and sugar, which displace many of the beneficial nutrients that children need for health every day, including fiber. Dietary fiber is found in fruits, vegetables and grains, with only small amounts retained in refined grains, or white rice and white flour. Burgers, sandwiches, and breading for fried food incorporate refined white flour buns, rolls and bread crumbs. French-fried potatoes provide adequate fiber but too much fat and sodium. Common vegetable ingredients such as tomatoes and onions represent the low end of the fiber scale.

Low fiber intake is linked with greater incidence of cancer, heart disease and constipation. In one sentence, eating fast food meals regularly may mean that you fail to meet your body’s requirement of eating 2 to 2 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables and 3 cups of dairy. Vegetables and fruits give you vitamins and minerals, while dairy provides you with calcium and protein. Some people think that there is nothing wrong with selling fast food in schools. They say it is convenient, cheap and tasty.

Convenience foods, or foods that require no preparation or traditional cooking by busy mothers trying to juggle a full time job with looking after a family are equally as unhealthy and unwholesome as the burgers and pizzas you get from fast food outlets. Foods that are processed and made into what can best be described as ready meals often contain few in any nutritional ingredients. They are bulked out with pasta, breadcrumbs, corn flour, processed potato, processed egg and milk products as well as hydrogenated vegetable oil, saturated fats, gums, sugar substitutes etc. and then made to taste good by the addition of herbs and spices, salt, monosodium glutamate and sugars. They also contain artificial colours and preservatives as well as some artificial flavorings just to complete the unhealthy package. Some people may think the dollar menu is cheap, but it isn’t cheaper to eat highly processed food: a typical order for a family of four, for example, two Big Macs, a cheeseburger, six chicken McNuggets, two medium and two small fries, and two medium and two small sodas — costs about $28 at the McDonald’s.

People can serve a roasted chicken with vegetables along with a simple salad and milk for about $14, and feed four people. If that’s too much money, substitute a meal of rice and canned beans with bacon, green peppers and onions; it’s easily enough for four people and costs about $9. In addition, eating fast food causes to increase obesity which leads to cost lots of money. Overweight individuals have 36 percent higher inpatient and outpatient and 77 percent higher medication costs. Food Fight, p45) It increases risk for many serious diseases, can be disabling, and has a very negative impact on the quality of person’s life. Also, fast food is a waste of money because you are buying a lot of calories, fat and sodium but getting very little nutrition in return. Apparently some people get addicted to the taste of popular fast food because it contains just the right mixture of fat, sugar and salt to set off the pleasure chemicals in the brain.

Experiments carried out on lab rats showed that when they were fed a diet that consisted of 25% sugar and then the sugar is removed, the rats become anxious, their teeth start to chatter and they suffer with the shakes – not unlike people going through a nicotine or morphine withdrawal. (The New York Times, 2011)The researchers also noticed long lasting changes in brain chemistry of rats fed with foods that had a combination of sweet, salt and fat in, which led them to conclude that there was a possibility that people too could see brain changes and become physically addicted to eating fast food.

Another article on The Washington Post states that: “Highly palatable” foods — those containing fat, sugar and salt — stimulate the brain to release dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with the pleasure center, he found. In time, the brain gets wired so that dopamine pathways light up at the mere suggestion of the food, such as driving past a fast-food restaurant, and the urge to eat the food grows insistent.

Once the food is eaten, the brain releases opioids, which bring emotional relief. Together, dopamine and opioids create a pathway that can activate every time a person is reminded about the particular food. This happens regardless of whether the person is hungry. (The Washington Post, April 27, 2009) Eating fast food once in a while, that is once or twice a month won’t matter at all, but having a habit of eating this kind of food can lead to serious consequences.

The absence of healthy food alternatives is one of the factors leading to an alarming increase in childhood obesity rates across the United States. Schools would like to protect children instead must sell soft drinks and snack foods to function. For example, the cafeterias in the schools should offer to school children less bacon and more broccoli, fewer hot dogs and more whole grains, less ice cream and more fruits, less sodas and more water. This does not imply that children should never touch bacon, hot dogs, sodas, or ice cream, ut rather that changing the balance of some foods relative to others is a means of improving America’s health. Today, nearly one-third of children and teens are overweight or obese. Growing evidence suggests that strong, far-reaching changes—those that make healthy foods available in schools are working to reduce childhood obesity rates. Asking children to avoid fast food is like asking them to save money for retirement. Instead, we can balance it by limiting fast food consumption in schools.