Fast food is the new obsession of the century. With new restaurants popping up all over the world getting more creative, diverse, and convenient, they have slowly but surely invaded our lives and culinary habits.
Fast food companies have successfully transformed our culinary experience from a slowly and nicely cooked meal made by a chef with the utmost care to an unhealthy product made by machines in laboratories. Furthermore, they supported it with the best marketing and advertising strategies to mask its truth by targeting children and busy people. Much like tobacco, fast food is indeed a trend that originated in the west and propagated to the rest of the world when the western market seemed to gain more awareness of its consequences on our health.
When fast food companies first emerged they were primarily propagating in the west; they quickly became the leading destination for social and family outings, making it so that many were consuming it multiples times a week. Sooner or later, worries about the nature of the food and its effects on our bodies arose. The growing rates of obesity and health issues were too major to ignore, which gave birth to massive health oriented campaigns in many western countries. Campaigns that soon clashed with an ever-growing, 600 billion dollar worth, fast food industry that could care less about public health.
For many, it is no secret that several studies and experiments proved that fast food is directly linked to obesity and several other health issues. Some disturbing experiments went the extra mile and instructed subjects to only consume fast food for a set period while monitoring the health changes in that timeframe, and the results were eye-opening. The campaigns were indeed successful; many regulations were enforced on fast food companies such as: putting calorie labels on menus, and downsizing drink sizes. The public opinion was impacted significantly as well, people started to think twice before heading to a fast food restaurant. They also started selecting more natural and healthier restaurants to go to.
The Market Swap
After starting to lose customers due to a rise in health consciousness in western countries, fast food companies needed a new market that was essentially less conscious and placed in countries with none or minimal regulations or restrictions on the industry. Eastern countries such as India and Saudi Arabia were perfect for the job. Today, in fact, more new fast food restaurants are opening in these countries than in the US, “the motherland of fast food”.
Fast food companies have undoubtedly brought more job openings and opportunities to these countries. However, how is it affecting them health-wise?
It is no surprise that obesity and health issues have peaked in these countries further, proving that fast food of any form is detrimental to health. When thinking of the highest rates of obesity in the world, one might think of western countries first, especially the US, but, it is a reality that some eastern countries like Qatar and Kuwait have much higher rates than the US.
Fast Fat or Fast Food?
The problem lays in the lack of awareness linking fast food and obesity, as well as obesity and terrible health consequences such as heart disease, diabetes, blood pressure, and back problems. In the midst of populations that still believe that the more weight children put on, the more luxurious and wealthy the family appears, fast food companies have found an Eldorado of business growth and profit in communities that have a lack of government monitoring and restricting.
The issue with fast food in eastern countries is that many of them lack entertainment means, so they mainly resort to those restaurants for social gatherings. For instance, Kuwaitis or Saudi citizens hardly go clubbing or drinking due to religious beliefs, what is more, any outdoor activity like hiking or football are challenging due to the excessive heat all year round. For other countries like India, activities are either expensive or nonexistent due to the lack of infrastructure.
Therefore, with fast food restaurants popping up in these countries, people quickly filled the lack of activity with fast food. A quick stroll to these restaurants and one would notice families, friends, and coworkers all heading to these gathering places at all times during the day and even at night. Much like Tobacco again, it is the social factor that instantly gets people hooked to the product and makes for a great market growth.
A Wake Up Call
In sum, the east is unknowingly suffering from the propagation of fast food restaurants. Fast food is getting more and more engraved into these people’s cultures on a daily basis as a social destination to go to, hungry or not. It is causing a major health crisis and endangering many people’s lives. Therefore, it is necessary to block this unhealthy habit by educating people on the deadly effects it has on their lives and societies.
Staggering obesity rates and growing health issues are a wake up call to citizens, governments, and business people to monitor what goes into our bodies as a human race; they are a wakeup call for all of us to finally demonize the fast food companies just like we successfully did with Tobacco ones.
Because none of us wants to see our youth and the incense of our future suffering from health issues we could have stopped.
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