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The Effects of Fast Food on the American Health and Culture

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Free «The Effects of Fast Food on the American Health and Culture» Essay Sample

Eric Schlosser is an American journalist and self-made author born on August 17th, 1959. Being an investigative journalist, he centers his works on the following things that affect the American people: food, health, nuclear weapons, and issues of security. The book Fast Food Nation is Schlosser’s first work seeking to explain the American diet and the health risk factors that came with it. It is not just the predictable anti-fast food campaign but rather a well-researched and powerfully argued document. Chapter five, which is the basis for the analysis, explains “Why the Fries Taste Good” (Schlosser 111). It gives much information concerning J. R. Simplot’s rise from a buyer, seller, and sorter of potatoes to the largest shipper in the West. Additionally, it talks about Simplot’s success in supplying frozen French fries to McDonald’s since 1950 after he invested in frozen food technology. Overall, chapters four–six are a sad exposé of a nation symbolized by poor health choices, the rise of fast foods, and their influence on diet, health, media, culture, farming industries, and the American’s daily life.

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According to Schlosser, fast food greatly influenced the American diet negatively. Through chapter four ‘successes’ the author brings to people’s attention franchising, one of the factors that led to the start of fast food restaurants in Colorado Springs. His point of view confirms the increased rate of pizza consumption in the area, specifying that “…the customers who drop by or call for pizza are college students, ordinary working people, people with large families, and the poor (Schlosser 92).” Based on these premises, Schlosser reveals the harmful effects of fast food consumption. Categorically, the author focuses on the American society by examining ways the idea of eating these foods have influenced people’s minds. Moreover, the presence of various hotels and restaurants that offer fast food facilitates the rate at which people consume it. For instance, the author identifies fast food sector as one of the major successful industries in America and, therefore, a recipe for poor diet choices among the American population. In chapter six, describing the feeding habits of animals in the olden days, Schlosser states that, “They roamed the range, eating native grasses, or they lived on farm and ate hay (151).” This statement could even imply that the culture of eating meat is unhealthy today. Through the confessions of Reeve, it is important that Americans realize that the success of the fast food industry is not an isolated matter. Their marketing and business strategies promote the Americans’ propensity for feeding on fast food. In fact, their mode of handling and packaging food is appetizing, and it makes “…its preparation a ritual to be followed religiously (Schlosser 115).” This attraction shows that the nation has slowly shifted from a diet that considered health and behavior to the one that promotes not only disregard for eating right but also laziness. Therefore, it is important to find out why the fries taste good and why people shift so fast to this death causing diet. Even though the need for spending less time on food preparation and eating explains this behavior, a fast food company’s business strategy also plays a role. For instance, the author explains that McDonald’s has developed a technique that would attract more fast food consumers. The company invested in the sale of burgers and fries through a franchising idea that saw stores attracting the American nation as early as in the 1950s. The potential of fast foods became obvious when “after the war, Simplot invested heavily in frozen food technology, betting that it would provide the meals of the future (Schlosser 113).” Simplot passed this view on to many Americans, who in turn contributed to the establishment of more pizza and fast food chains, such as Taco Bells, Wendy’s, Burger Kings. As a result, this expansion has greatly influenced people, as they would stop by these fast food joints at any time. It was then that burgers, fries, and sodas started to symbolize America and its dietary choices.

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The love of Americans for food has jeopardized health in many ways (Schlosser 113). However, it is hard to convince people of such issues since they have developed an addiction to fast food. The author accounts his many attempts to explain the attitude of the Americans to fast foods and provide an eye-opening scenario to health as a factor of consideration (TheOpenProjectYT). The effects of such foods on their health become visible upon setting narrative to a particular geographic area. In fact, in this way, one can track a section of society that is on the verge of crumbling as a result of wrong food choices, which increase the health hazards. For instance, the BBC documentary concerning nutrition shows that among kids who cannot get enough of fast food, the level of addiction they attach to this class of food increases. It describes this food as a ticking bomb since it leads to massive health problems especially in children who wholly feed on them. For example, the emergence of such disease as cancer is a result of eating too much of fast food. However, children still view fries and pizzas as essential components of their diet. They voluntarily decide not to stop such eating habit to avoid the consequences. In particular, the documentary presented a saddening confession of a mother whose child has refused to eat healthful foods. This situation means that people are aware that fast foods are health threats but still choose to take it anyway. For instance, McDonald’s and all the other fast food chains in America are privy to the health dangers of the foods they serve, but still chose to venture into the business because it is lucrative (TheOpenProjectYT). In fact, the idea of profit maximization makes them blind to the health problems associated with fast food. Additionally, the BBC documentary reveals the lives of young kids who have been affected by fast foods. One becomes a massive fast food eater at nineteen months. The parents say that the child refused to eat healthy foods, and this is very sad, considering his age, that “He doesn’t eat any other food… (TheOpenProjectYT).” The other one is a three-year-old baby whose mum has never cooked because of the reliance on fast foods. This condition is not only scary for the children but also exposes them to health risks. Therefore, it is apparent that fast foods pose real health problems to the Americans.

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Furthermore, the media, political powers, and American culture have catalyzed the fast food fiasco (Schlosser 112). It should be the role of the media to educate people concerning the dangers of consuming fast foods. However, due to various constraints, they have failed and even attracted more people to consume these products following their persuasive and consistent advertisements. The media’s role could be simple, that is, advancing the fast food joints as places of taste and continually deterring gullible people from unhealthy choices. Instead, the media portrays these companies as enormous with impressive buying and selling capacities to influence a significant portion of the country. On the other hand, it is apparent that both economic and political powers also influence the action of media towards such issues in the society. The effect is even visible in the Americans today. Moreover, Schlosser analyzes economic and political powers as those having played a significant part in turning America into a fast food dependent nation. He claims that the people’s food choices have even influenced the culture: a once health conscious people began to be identified with fries, burgers, and sodas. As long as business thrives, nobody cares about the health of the nation. The author discloses that the relationship between the government and the fast food business is very profound, making it difficult to mitigate the problem (Schlosser 113). Therefore, the companies in this industry can hardly stop their operations since they enjoy the media support as well as political power.

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Investment in fast foods has also largely influenced the farming industries. Chapter five initially directed the reader’s attention to J. R. Simplot, a farm owner and one of the largest distributors of potatoes to the McDonald’s. People see his contributions as vital to the overall business, and the author hints that his production has even increased (Schlosser 112). Schlosser also explains that the employees of these farm industries have to work tirelessly hard to ensure that the fries business stays on top. The following chapter exposes the havoc this business brings to the landscape. For instance, in Idaho, Aberdeen, Bingham, is the county that grows more potatoes than any other one. To produce and supply enough for fast food chains, the plant has many employees. The author notes that “The Simplot plant runs twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and ten days a year, turning potatoes into French fries (Schlosser 111).” Moreover, Schlosser states that “It processes about a million pounds of potatoes a day (Schlosser 111).” Therefore, there is a huge pressure on the farms, which makes them to increase production of potatoes for fries. It affects not only the farms but also the employees who have to work most of their lives to meet companies’ set objectives. At the end, this pressure can be a good step towards economic progress, but when analyzed keenly, its disadvantages outweigh the advantages. The fast food investments influence the operations of farms in many ways.

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Lastly, fast food reliance has negatively affected the day-to-day running of life (TheOpenProjectYT). For example, it has disrupted work life among the industrial workers and the consumers themselves. The workers do not rest; they spend all the hours of their day either inspecting machines or working on farms, while consumers constantly look for money to buy these products. This situation is observable from the author’s critique of Americans’ over-reliance on fast foods and their inability to make dietary choices. It is clear that the mass production has changed the lives of many. Consequently, Simplot has to work beyond his limits to produce enough for McDonald’s consumption as the author states that “Looming over the whole enterprise is the spirit of one man:  John Richard Simplot, America’s great potato baron, whose seemingly inexhaustible energy and willingness to take risks built an empire based on French fries (Schlosser 111).” Therefore, both workers and consumers work hard to ensure the success of fast foods.

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In conclusion, it is almost impossible to disagree with Schlosser ‘s revelations of the Americans’ choices of food. His well-researched work leaves little to chance as the author seeks to redirect people’s attention to the real issues of health. Since the years of World War II, Americans wallowed in the production and consumption of fast foods with little concern for their own health and other effects this habit has on them. The author is careful not to blame or judge the Americans but rather enlightens them on the issues that come with fast foods. Schlosser considers the industry as a manifestation of the values of the capitalist that have shaped the nation since the Second World War. The author also mourns the country now symbolized by its choices of food and the effects that it has brought not only on people’s dietary decisions but also to the media representation of culture, farming industries, and the daily life. Finally, Schlosser expresses that though fast foods are sound business ventures, they have negatively contributed in destroying the lives and health of many Americans.

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