Obesity and Diabetes
“As obesity increases we are seeing more and more young people, some as young as seven, being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, previously only seen in those over 40. It won’t be long before we start seeing our children growing up and losing limbs and becoming blind as they develop the serious complications of having the condition.”
– Cathy Moulton
It’s everywhere you look, whether it be in magazines, newspapers or on movie screens, the availability of fast foods are rising each and every day. Our fast paced society is helping the fast food industries immensely. The world we live in today is a constant rush. Obesity and diabetes are becoming more and more of a threat to teens with every consumption of fast food they make. In 1970s fast food contributed to only two percent of a child’s daily meal. By mid 1990s this has increased to 10 percent of the daily meal of our children. Today one tenth of children aged between 2 and 5 years and 15% of children between ages 6 and 19 are overweight. But is it their fault they are gaining weight, or could the constant rush of our society be contributing to their terrible health choices as well?
Everyday people are caught using the phrase “oh we’ll just get something on the road,” or skipping meals earlier in the day and eating more at the end of the day. Our society is in an unbalanced lifestyle. Studies found that people who ate fast food regularly were more likely to gain ten pounds than those who indulged less often. It showed that eating fast food several times a week can make a person twice as likely to contract diabetes. But is it really the fast foods that’s drawing these conclusions, or are people in our society making unhealthy choices when they eat-out?
Recently large fast food chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell have introduced healthy food options on their menus. Most of these menu items have ingredients that healthy eaters would prefer to avoid. Most health conscious consumers consider healthy foods to be things like raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and clean meats (free-range chicken or turkey). Some ingredients that health consumers consider unacceptable are MSG (free glutamate, including anything hydrolyzed), trans fats, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and most preservatives.
So many so-called healthy fast food menu items, upon closer inspection, do not live up to the health publicity. Most of the meat from any of the major fast food chains has ingredients such as emulsifiers, preservatives, MSG, artificial colors, and trans fats. Some of these ingredients are not foods at all, but are chemicals that are generally recognized as safe. Most of these ingredients cannot be found at your local grocery store, but some can be found at your local hardware store. Next time, when choosing to eat “healthy” at a fast food restaurant, think again, and who do these fast food chains target? Innocent children.
It is very common for business in the fast food industries to target the child audience, because as child fast food consumers, it is more common to become adult fast food consumers. This statement can be easily proven. Each time you go into McDonald’s (the world’s largest fast food chain) you see how McDonalds uses cartoons, toys, schools, charities and even parents to reach its youngest customers. According to its 2006 Annual Report, McDonald’s is the leading global food chain, with more than 30,000 local restaurants serving 52 million people in more than 100 countries each day. Its 2006 income was $21.6 billion, up 16% from 2004. In 2006, McDonald’s spent almost $2.5 million a day on normal advertising in the United States. About 40% of McDonald’s total advertising budget is directed at children.
Diet is not the only factor influencing obesity and diabetes in North America, but as it as well, our general lack of exercise. Perhaps it is the design of communities, where transit buses and cars are what seems to be the only source of transportation. Maybe it is the fact that we have such busy schedules, that we just can’t find 30 minutes to ensure proper health and physical fitness.
Whatever the reason be, adjustments need to be made. Type two diabetes has been described as a new epidemic in the American with an overall 33% increase in diabetes. In 1992, it was rare for most pediatric centers to have patients with type two diabetes. By 1994, type two diabetes accounted for up to 16% of new cases of pediatric diabetes in built-up areas, and by 1999, it accounted for 8-45% of new cases of diabetes.
Obesity and diabetic rates are and will continue to increase if we keep avoiding this issue. Not only are the obese and diabetic people affected, but it also causes an increase in associated health care costs, and many preventable deaths. Read about diabetic emergency
It hurts to see an elementary student open their lunchbox to see cold, half eaten McDonald’s, with a can of red bull to drink. Are parents really this rushed that they are ignoring health and well-being of their child, or do they not know the risks they are putting their children at? Increasing awareness to this issue is the beginning to a solution, but we may also want to consider reassessing how we eat, and the physical exercise we get daily. Obesity has nothing to do with body image, but if we continue to state it does we are not supporting a thin unhealthy image, but rather letting the image of obesity soar to vast new rates.