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Academic Research Sample

Cause and Effect: Fast Foods Popularity in the United States


In the past, most Americans used to eat fresh and healthy food prepared by their families at home. In the current society, technological advancements and globalization trends have greatly influenced what people eat and their eating habits (Clarke para. 10). These trends have led to popularity of the fast food, especially among the working class and the youths. The popularity is depicted by the increasing number of fast food restaurants in strategic locations such as shopping malls, educational institutions and sports arenas. The growth of globalised brands such as McDonald and KFC indicates that fast foods are popular and preferable. Some of the fast foods common among Americans include hamburgers, pizzas, milkshakes, French fries and fried chicken. The popularity of fast food culture has had several impacts on the social and economic aspects of Americans’ lives.  

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Causes of the Increasing fast foods in the US

There are several reasons for the increasing popularity of fast foods in the United States. One of the main reasons is the change in lifestyle due to technological advancements and globalization trends. For example, most employers advocate for high individual performance and organizational productivity, and one of the common measures is to increase the working hours. Other people end up working for long hours because they are being paid in terms of commissions. This, in turn, reduces the time that can be spent cooking fresh and healthy food (Hitti para. 5). In reference to lifestyle, most people are left with no choice but to eat in fast food restaurants. Tight work shifts and extended learning time also contribute to the increasing consumption of fast foods. It is also evident that the number of women working and attending schools has incredibly increased over the last decades. Given that the traditional notion that women are responsible for cooking is still prevalent, most men would rather eat in fast food restaurants than cook good meals at home. As people move across borders they also carry their culture and values. For example, as Americans tend to move to the global village, they share their culture, particularly eating habits. A global brand such as McDonalds recognized its customers’ needs on a global scale, hence established outlets on foreign lands to meet their customers’ demands in those countries. Overall, fast foods are preferable because their high speed service and take-away sales are convenient for people with a rapid paced life. Workers can have a quick lunch in their short breaks and students can maximize their time for extracurricular activities by taking fast foods. Fast foods can also be purchased from anywhere through convenience stores, vending machines, and fast food restaurant chains with drive-through, office delivery and take-away services. In the United States, fast foods are relatively cheaper than meals in table-serviced restaurants. The prices are also lower due to harsh pricing strategies among the giants in the fast foods industry. For example, McDonalds focuses on low cost products and high speed service.

Another cause is the extensive marketing and advertisement programs by the franchises in this industry. Given that people are moving to the cyber space, much of the advertisements and marketing trends have also been shifted to the digital world. In addition, most fast food restaurants are implementing web based technologies because these are their key competencies. In this respect, fast food restaurants are promoted in social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, hence increasing their popularity. Extensive production plans have also contributed to the popularity of fast food intake. For example, McDonalds is known for luring more customers through frequent offers. Such strategies develop a consumer taste, preference, culture and loyalty on such fast foods.

Thirdly, the increase in taste for fast foods is attributed to the fact that fast food industry is larger and more profitable compared to other food and beverage producers. In 2012, the fast food industry registered revenue of 160 billion US dollars (Sena para. 3). The industry also consists of over 300,000 restaurants, employing over 3.9 million people (Statista para. 1). This gives the industry the capacity to invest in more marketing strategies and win a greater market share and size. Their successful branding advertisements encourage more families and youths to eat fast foods. Friends to regular customers are also attracted by the trends they watch or experience online. Based on this capacity, the popularity of fast foods will continue to grow while small food and beverage operated businesses will experience constrains for growth.

The Effects of fast food popularity in the United States

Fast foods have a serious effect on health. According to the NIH, a study from the American Journal of Public Health indicated that there are higher rates of obesity among the youths along with the increasing number of fast food restaurants (Clarke para. 2). The presence of many fast food outlets translates to more food in front of people which is easy to eat. In the same context, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention linked the alarming rates of obesity to the popularity of fast foods. Another study funded by NIH in 2005 indicated that teens who ate fast foods frequently gained extra weight over their fellows who consumed fast foods less often. According to Isganaitis and Lustig (para. 2), nutritional analysis indicates that fast foods are high in fat, energy density, saturated fat, fructose, yet poor in calcium, fiber, and vitamins A and C. Some of the high-sugar fast foods as stated by USDA include high fat foods and regular carbonated beverages. The effects of weight gain can be permanent. According to Clarke (para. 4), overweight teens are likely to be overweight in adulthood with a probability of 70 percent. Excessive intake of fast food is also linked to nutrition imbalance and chronic diseases. Nutritional imbalance and being overweight is associated with an increase in the risk of contracting chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease and type-2 diabetes. According to Clarke (paragraph 5), being obese or having a BMI (body mass index) of over 30 increases your risk of developing asthma, arthritis, depression, gall bladder disease and sleep apnea.

The increasing popularity of fast foods has also negatively affected family and social bonds. As people prefer fast foods to meals cooked at home, their family bonds weaken. Unlike in the past, modern families spend less time eating together. The tradition of dining together is slowly fading because some of the family members go back to their families after passing through fast food restaurants. Others simply purchase take-away fast foods. The tradition of eating together is important since families tend to talk and speak their minds over a meal. This trend might also result in people losing their cooking skills.

Lastly, fast foods have critical economic effects. The trends lead to excessive use of money given that people rarely plan or budget for the food consumed in these restaurants. The popularity of fast food has also resulted in growth of multinational companies and employment. Some of the global brands include KFC, McDonalds, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Burger King (Isganaitis and Lustig para. 10).


To conclude, although fast foods are abundant and convenient, they have serious social and health effects. They are convenient due to the presence of many fast food outlets, which offer affordable and speedy fast food services. On the other hand, they result in health problems such as obesity, chronic diseases and nutritional imbalance. Fast foods also result in excessive use of money. Therefore, people should monitor their consumption of fast foods and encourage intake of fresh and healthy foods prepared in their homes.

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