The unhealthy food is causing a negative impact on the development of the American society. It undermines the proper relationship of the population and food industry. This research paper reveals problems that are related to unhealthy food and nutritional choices of the individuals. It answers the question of how presence of unhealthy food in the life of society makes the impact on the quality of life and lifestyle. It compares the multinational behavior and eating habits. The paper discusses the links and interrelationship among unhealthy production, nutrition, health, politics, economics, ecology, etc. The study clearly indicates how unhealthy food possesses significant challenges to individuals and society. It explains the positive effect of the higher tax on unhealthy food.
A Higher Tax on Unhealthy Food
The United States of America is the leading country in the industry of unhealthy food production. Many Americans are more likely to go to the nearest fast food restaurant than cook a meal from the fresh groceries at home. The chain of the fast food restaurants has developed all over the country. There is no single city in which there is no place to eat fast food. The large-scale distribution of the places where people could eat unhealthy food led to the raise of different issues. These problems are related to the people’s health conditions like obesity, hypertension, heart disease, cancer and many others. It has its negative impact on the nation, as a whole community. People who suffer from the diseases that are associated with unhealthy food have lack of vitamins and energy. It influences their physical conditions and ability to work. The government has to take action in order to reduce the consumption of the “junk food”, as it influences the work ability of the population and as a result it has a direct impact on the economy. Like tobacco, unhealthy food should have higher taxes in order to escape the serious consequences that lay ahead of the nation which does not want to prefer health over food consumption.
Fast food industry is the main distributor of unhealthy food. This concept includes the use of the fast food that is offered by specialized institutions. The term "fast food" refers to food that can be cooked quickly and it is convenient for the client to quickly eat it. Fast food industry emerged in the 1920s in America. In 1921, a company White Castle in Kansas was established. The burger was a very unusual type of food for that time and quickly gained popularity among customers. A stable price of the product attracted buyers. The doubts about the safety of the product have been dispelled. It was the first step of the nation to the consumption of unhealthy food. In the late 1940s, the company began to face the competition. One of the most serious competitors was the McDonald's. “It was fast, convenient, and inexpensive; it was spotlessly clean, the equipment was shiny and new, the outside and inside were brightly lit and very unusual gold-colored arches stuck out of the building” (Smith, 2011). Exactly all of these characteristics of the fast food restaurant made people become dependent on the unhealthy food.
The unhealthy type of food integrated different issues into society. One of the most difficult and dangerous ones is obesity. Obesity is a fat deposition and increase of the human weight. Obesity is the result of an imbalance between the absorption and energy expenditure in the body. Recently, the rate of obesity among Americans significantly increased. “Two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese” (Food research and Action Center, 2010). In case of children, the situation is critical. The rate of obesity among children is dangerous in terms of the future prospects of the current young generation. Children constantly eat unhealthy food products. “Every day, nearly one-third of U.S. children aged 4 to 19 eat fast food, which likely packs on about six extra pounds per child per year and increases the risk of obesity, a study of 6,212 youngsters found” (CBSNEWS, 2009). It is not a surprise that many billions of dollars are put in the advertising of the fast food industry that is directed on the child attention annually.
There are many diseases that are related to the consumption of unhealthy food. Cancer, heart disease and hypertension are among them. The heart attack is one of the most frequent causes of human death in the United States. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men” (Roger, 2012). Another serious disease is cancer. Constant consumption of the unhealthy food could lead to the tumor that has properties that make it extremely dangerous for the organism.
Making the comparison of the multicultural behaviors and eating habits we could see the differences in the life style and health conditions of different nations. Different nations have their own eating habits. All of them are concentrated around the products that grow in the particular region. For example, Asians tend to grow rice and eat raw fish. Different nations have their own different eating habits. Over the years people have developed a system of cultivation and production of fresh food with high quality. However, the process of globalization and migration has created the multicultural behavior that filled the life of the people with unhealthy food. It is difficult to save the eating habits of your nations, while you exist inside the society that often prefers unhealthy food.
The next problem that is related to the nutrition issue is dependence. It is not a secret that the more people eat, the more they will want to eat in the future. The situation is more serious in terms of the unhealthy food. It was proved by scientists that people tend to eat more when they consume unhealthy products. “A new study in rats suggests that high-fat, high-calorie foods affect the brain in much the same way as cocaine and heroin. When rats consume these foods in great enough quantities, it leads to compulsive eating habits that resemble drug addiction, the study found” (Klein, n.d.). The same situation is with the beverages. People get used to quench their thirst with the help of the soft drinks. The thing is that after consumption of the soft drinks you want to drink even more. Soft drinks contain caffeine that absorbs the liquid from human body. It causes the dependence that is a benefit for the manufacturer. However, it is not healthy for the consumers.
So, it creates the issue of the income for the owners and for the population as a consumer segment of the society. Economically, this position is very beneficial for the manufacturer. He produces the products that could bring him extra income. More people spend money for the food, which means that more owners get the benefits. However, it results in a potential threat for the whole nations. The manufacturer would not stop to produce unhealthy food due to the moral aspects. On the other hand, people do not want to change their nutrition habits. It is an unsolvable problem. The possible solution to this problem could be strong and reasonable measures from the side of the government. It has a power to raise taxes on unhealthy food. A good example could be the raise of tax on the cigarette production. The results showed that the high tax in the tobacco industry decreased the amount of people who smoke. The tobacco tax is one of the highest ones. The revealed studies showed that it dramatically decreased the smoking rate among both adults and high school students (Johnson, 2012). The same result could be achieved in providing the high tax on unhealthy food.
However, all theories of the raising taxes are based on the notion that the growth of the product’s price is leading to the decrease in its consumption. This principle does not always work. The evidence shows that the tax on unhealthy food should be as least high on 20 percent. Otherwise, it would not make any sense. However, the high tax could have a hidden danger. It could lead to the undesirable consequences. People, who cannot afford expensive food, will buy everything for what they have money, not the most useful products. Also, if to introduce the tax on sweets, it might increase the demand for fat. Therefore, it would be better to impose the tax on sugar drinks first. In order to provide the best output from the tax raise on the unhealthy food, it is necessary to simultaneously subsidize healthy food such as fruits and vegetables. However, here we can stumble over another issue.
The rise of the population and demand for food created the problem of the inability to grow high quality food for entire population. In order to produce entire field of vegetables and fruits, it is necessary to use chemical fertilizers. It is not economically profitable to grow a lot of products without any pesticides. It makes the contribution to the quality of products. “According to a survey by the Environmental Working Group, apples are the most pesticide-contaminated produce on average, with pesticides showing up on 98 percent of the more than 700 samples tested” (Gianni, 2012). This is the case with many products, not only with apples. This process of food production poses significant challenges to individuals and society.
The use of pesticides leads not only to the decrease in the quality of the food products, but also makes a negative impact on the ecology. The most important type of natural resources is land. The main activity that causes negative changes in the soil is agriculture. So, the use of chemical fertilizers led to the erosion of the soil. The end result could be the complete destruction of the fertile ground. In the future, this land could become a desert. The politics also created difficult conditions for farmers who could not feed their cows from their own cropland. Their own corn production is too expensive for them. They have to buy corns for their cows from manufacturers who use pesticides while growing crops (Avery, n.d.). As we see, the political and economic conditions are not well designed for the process of producing the food with high quality. Unfortunately, it is easier and more profitable for the producers to provide the population of the country with unhealthy food. Moreover, major manufacturers and retailers have gained a control over the supply chain. With the help of the effective pricing policy and new marketing techniques, these companies have created a demand for cheaper, but more harmful products, which tend to make it easy to prepare a semi-finished products and beverages. In addition, there was a bias in favor of cheaper and more harmful ingredients, for example, the use of corn syrup instead of a sweetener.
It is also difficult to see the economical issue that exists between unhealthy food and health care. It is obvious that the health care system is one of the main sources of the income for the government. The more people are using health care system, the more money the country gets from the sales of the pharmaceuticals. It is also beneficial for the private hospitals and people who have business in this sphere. As a result, the production of the unhealthy food, that makes the negative contribution on the health conditions of the nations, is a matter of interest in some way. All these concepts and relationship between economics, political, health, ecology factors and unhealthy food pose hard and dangerous consequences to individuals and society.
The unhealthy food production and personal nutrition choices have a direct impact on the lifestyle and quality of life. People who tend to eat fresh fruits and vegetables differ from those who prefer fast food. People who cook their food at home and monitor the quality of products suffer less from any disease. They tend to keep their body in a good shape and choose the active way of life. They are not obese and do not have physical disorders. It allows them to be ready for any job opportunity. People who tend to consume unhealthy food are more stressful and dependent on their harmful eating habits. They cannot have decent quality of life, as their physical conditions are limited by their health problems. They will always have a slow lifestyle that will not be filled with the sport activity.
Unfortunately, people consume unhealthy food more and more. It makes the negative impact on the economy and the health of the whole nation. The higher tax on the unhealthy food could be an option to solve this issue. It definitely could not extremely change the situation with the obesity rate or other diseases, but it could play an important role in the creation of the right direction for proper life of Americans.