Increasing Consumption of Fast Food
Researchers have accorded a level of interest within the global perspective appertaining to dietary practices, following the heightened level of junk food consumption evidenced within the periods 1980s to the present. The demand for junk food has been notably reflected by the number of fast-food outlets instituted within yearly periods. Despite the fact that these establishments are for trading purposes and thereby accorded equitable rights for establishment, a significant concern has been directed to the food items available to the clients. Dietetic experts assert that most food items present in such locations comprise of high contents of fatty, sugary and energy-giving food items, with trivial focus on fiber and vitamins. This food constitution has led to an escalation of ailments like obesity, cardiac complications, hypertension, and diabetes amongst other health problems (Davis and Christopher 505). Majorities of these outlets have expanded their menus to incorporate healthy food items yet a bulk of the consumers has maintained the unhealthy style. Various factors have been identified as according a significant function in the shaping of the identified dietary inclination.
Consumer likings have been proposed as a contributing determinant in the heightened level of junk food consumption. Consumers within the trading sector are influenced primarily by their needs and less primarily by their preferences. The latter component is attributable to the accessibility of alternative products within the market. With the enhancement of market sizes due to the liberalization concepts, consumers’ options have been expanded by the allocation factor. All economic goods are subjective to the rule of marginal returns to scales that is concerned with the preference factor, marked with the initial point of consumption according positive results up to a peak point that consequently leads to a declination of the utility. As the product efficacy reduces, the consumer tends to accord a substitute to the given item. The food industry has been controlled by the aforementioned statute with trends being accorded to aspects like price, affordability, utility level amongst others.
Researchers have confirmed the credibility of these assertions as reflected by the Australian study focusing on the Melbourne location. Two thousand five hundred and forty seven participants were employed with the factors being evaluated hinged on the number of fast-food institutions, food arrays and proximity to fast-food outlets. The research accorded a positive correlation to the location factor by noting that the placement of a fast-food outlet within a radius of three kilometers would lead to an enhanced level of consumption of up to thirteen percent for the households encompassed within the geographical setting (Thornton, Rebecca and Anne 7). With the outlet being in close proximity to purchasers, the food items are affordable due to a downward cost review on the consumers’ side as the transport function is considerably lessened. The economic function was also noted within the colonias region located within the Mexican and Texas geographical boundary.
The research in the colonias was conducted by Sharkey, Cassandra, Wesley and Scott, revealing that the residents’ high probability to the consumption of junk food was attributable to “inadequate roads, limited or non-existent public transportation, and poor access to community resources” (2). Most residents within this location were categorized as an underprivileged group, thus a reduction of the purchasing power. The residents revealed that a bulk of their trading functions was aligned to agricultural production and consequently, the regions’ output was well able to accord healthy feeding patterns to the populace. This factor was however inhibited by the downbeat form of infrastructure within the area multiplying the efforts with regard to time and overheads required to access the agricultural areas for fresh food. Additionally, most of the households are limited by the income factor to an extent that they are hampered in terms of securing a vehicle or affording fuel for the same. Consequently, despite the capability or preference of an individual towards the healthy diet, it becomes highly impossible to obtain such due to the access element.
Therefore, with fast-food eateries, convenience outlets and superstores being the most accessible food suppliers within the region, the residents are coerced into the unhealthy dietetic practices (Sharkey, et al. 7). Besides geographical issues, ethical factors have also been associated with the fast-food tendency as noted by Lucan, Frances and Judith in their study, centralized on the African American populace in Philadelphia. The investigation outcomes indicated that both healthy and unhealthy foods within the region shared the taste and overheads functions as mutual determinants (Lucan, Frances and Judith 632). Personal inclinations with regard to foods were a primary constituent to junk food, with the most negatively affected within the category being vegetables. Proximity to food joints and purchasing areas proved as positive factors towards the enhanced level of junk food consumption in the named area. Only individuals with health problems observed a strict diet of healthy meals.
Gender and age factors were mildly considered in the study. Women were accorded a higher level of junk consumption as hinged on the craving factor evidenced by the fluctuating amounts of hormonal variances during the menstrual periods. Weight sensitive women accorded cautiousness in their dietetic functions although the food items largely remained as unhealthy combinations. The age factor accorded higher junk food tendencies to the aged as they are inhibited than younger individuals with the movement element. However, health factors within the latter group were also rated as an antecedent for food choices. Teenagers also fall within the consideration with their preference accorded to junk items due to effectual services in fast-food outlets that aids with the schooling role in terms of time organization (Davis and Christopher 509). Additionally, most fast-food outlets are located in close proximity to learning establishments as a business promotional approach in the establishment of niche markets.
Societal structures are another factor that bears a large significance in the consumption of junk food. Rural locations that are accorded a higher restriction into the productive areas for healthy food supplies are accorded a higher likelihood towards the consumption of junk provisions due to the problem of the infrastructures (Sharkey, et al. 11). Inversely, urban dwellers bearing superior infrastructure are well able to acquire easy access to productive locations for healthy items. Lastly, individual tastes have been notably impacted in terms of biological functionalities in a manner that has accorded a higher status of inclination for junk food. Table salt, which contains traces of sodium chloride, was employed in a biological investigation to ascertain the reliability of the projections. Seventy teenagers ranging within the ages of twelve and thirteen were used a primary participants in the investigation with the control food items all bearing a distinct level of brine (Kim and Lee 478).
The outcomes bore an absolute positive relation linking highly salty foods to an upper preference amongst the teenagers. Consequently, with most junk foods bearing the preferred brine ration in its foods, the amount of consumption on such unhealthy dishes was heightened. Foods included amongst the top three preferences due to brine were pizza, ham and pork burgers in order of priority (Kim and Lee 475). The investigators accorded their conclusion towards this form of trend to an acquired form of food flavors that is associated with communal and lifestyle practices. Note that, this premise was justified by the fact that the teenagers employed in the study were of Korean ethnicity, well renowned for the consumption of extremely spiced and salted food items.
In conclusion, junk food eating habits are determined by an intricate relationship of the various determinants. First, the rule of marginal returns to scale affects all individuals and upon the accordance of negative utility, product switches are evidenced. Secondly, finances tend to coerce the type of food consumed, as healthy diets are costly. Thirdly, geographical locations with regard to the accessibility and proximity element determine the availability of healthy foods to the populace. Fourthly, individual preferences act as a decisive element as to the type of food that an individual leans towards. Gender and age define the fifth factor with the former noted in the aspect of cravings mainly within the female populace especially during the menses, whereas the latter accords unhealthy eating habits to teenagers as opposed to other groups. Sixth, urban regions due to the infrastructure component are able to access healthy food as opposed to rural settings. Lastly, cultural practices, as evidenced by the Koreans with regard to salted food, infuse a form of acquired taste that affects food preferences within the populace.
Davis, Brennan, and Christopher Carpenter. “Proximity of Fast-Food Restaurants to Schools and Adolescent Obesity.” American Journal of Public Health 99.3 (2009): 505-511. Print.
Kim, G., and Lee, H. “Frequent consumption of certain fast foods may be associated with an enhanced preference for salt taste.” Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 22 (2009): 475-480. Print.
Lucan, Sean, Frances Barg and Judith Long. “Promoters and Barriers to Fruit, Vegetable, and Fast-Food Consumption Among Urban, Low-Income African Americans – A Qualitative Approach.” American Journal of Public Health 100.4 (2010): 631-636. Print.
Sharkey, Joseph, Cassandra Johnson, Wesley Dean and Scott Horel. “Focusing on fast foods restaurants alone underestimates the relationship between neighborhood deprivation and exposure to fast food in a large rural area.” Nutrition Journal 10.10 (2011): 1-14. Print.
Sharkey, Joseph, Scott Horel, Daiwakon Han and John Huber. “Association between neighborhood need and spatial access to food stores and fast food restaurants in neighborhoods of Colonias.” International Journal of Health Geographics 8.9 (2009): 1-17. Print.
Thornton, Lukar, Rebecca Bentley and Anne Kavanagh. “Fast food purchasing and access to fast food restaurants: a multilevel analysis of VicLANES.” International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 6.28 (2009): 1-10. Print.