Fast Food in Schools

Children constitute a new generation that will replace the present one. It is desirable to know that this future will be healthy. Thus, there is a question what the child that is brought up on fast food will be like. Today, there are great concerns about children’s attitude to their health and lifestyle. Despite the unanimous declaration of unconditional dangers of fast food, it continues to attract children of different gender, age, income level and social status. Fast food is a favorite snack for most children and students. Hot dogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers and pizzas can be found in any school cafeteria. Most children prefer a high-calorie snack than to give preference to wholesome food.

 

According to Kaushik, Narang, and Parkh, “fast food is an emerging trend among the younger generation” (97). Some children do not know what harm fast food can cause and why it should not be consumed. Others are careless to absorb food, believing that it cannot cause any health problems. Nevertheless, fast food is almost deadly for the younger generation, because the body is still being formed, and it depends on the contents of the plate. An unbalanced menu, especially fast food, in school cafeterias leads to obesity, abnormalities in the endocrine and immune system, and this, in turn, affects the physical and mental development in the future.

Harm of Fast Food

Children, who eat fast food, often do not get the essential nutrients that are required for ensuring optimal body function. Fast food does not contain enough iron in abundance of fat and sugar (Lewis). The reason for the negative effect of fast food on human health is the way it’s consumed. Fast food is usually taken quickly, in a hurry. Therefore, for the stomach, it is very hard to cope with the large pieces of poorly chewed food. In addition, gastric juice cannot cope with a high content of spices, mayonnaise, various sauces, ketchup, primary role of which consist of hiding the real taste and smell of the products. Persistent failures of the stomach due to the use of such food lead to serious gastrointestinal disease.

Fast Food and Obesity. The prevalence of child’s obesity has increased, which raises a high public concern. Fast food is one of the main factors that contribute to this problem. Frequent consumption of fast food can lead to obesity, since all components are high-energy, and directed on the rapid quenching hunger. They contain an enormous amount of cholesterol (Lewis). Naturally, not all elements are digested and a great part remains in the body and is stored in the form of fat. As a result, the humankind obtains the nation with a high percentage of obesity. In addition to overweight, a child may face problems with the gastrointestinal tract: cholecystitis, gastritis, and, ulcers. Fast food is strictly forbidden for kids with allergies. Such products can aggravate the situation and lead to undesirable consequences.

Health Problems. Rausch states that “the American diet is known to be high in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol” (2). The diet that is presented by pizza, hamburgers, soda and sweet desserts is an energetically poor one and increases the risk of future diabetes and heart diseases (Kaushik & Narang & Parkh 98). Fatty foods lead to occlusion of blood vessels and may cause vascular plaque formation, even in very young age.

The harm of fast food for children is also associated with dietary supplements. A large number of carcinogens is deposited inside the body. This leads to malfunction of metabolism and endocrine system. Trans fats that are contained in fast food can cause cancer (Lewis).

Fast food causes diseases of liver and pancreas. Fast food contains a high percentage of fat and cholesterol, which is an enormous burden on the liver (Lewis). In addition, the harm of fast food is explained by the large amount of salt. These dishes have a very heavy load on the kidneys.

Fast food causes avitaminosis. It is developed with a lack of nutrients. If a child often eats fast food, it could cause harm to all the body systems. Fast food and the child are two incompatible concepts. Vitamin deficiency is manifested in fatigue, decreased strength of the immune system, memory impairment, and frequent colds.

Danger Ingredients. Fast food often contains a special ingredient - flavor enhancers. They stimulate the receptor of the tongue and give the dishes distinct taste and appeal. The most common is sodium glutamate. After it, the usual food seems tasteless. It causes the formation of dependence and impacts health. Fast food contains a lot of carbohydrates (Lewis). Furthermore, it has almost no fiber, and hence it stagnates in the intestine, roams and rots, leading to bloating, abdominal discomfort, and constipation. This leads to anemia and decreased immunity. A ruddy crust on a bun, fried cutlet, or on meat is a potential carcinogen. Flavors or preservatives can cause a change in the children's immune system, increasing a risk of becoming an allergic. Children can have abdominal pain and disorders of the nervous system.

These products are heat-treated, and thus, deprived of vitamins. The body will suffer from its lack. In addition, these products have a small amount of minerals and they are poorly absorbed. Especially, this refers to calcium, which is essential for the growth of the skeleton. Usually, in the products of fast food, the cheapest raw material (sausage, mayonnaise, ketchup, canned mushrooms, etc.) is used. In addition, many components should be stored according to the rules, which are often disturbed. This threatens by poisoning, as well as salmonellosis and dysentery. Another argument against these products is that they are usually seasoned with spicy and fatty sauces - mayonnaise, mustard or ketchup with different additives that irritate the child’s digestion, can cause heartburn, nausea (Lewis). Moreover, mayonnaise is an excellent breeding ground for pathogens.

Fried food presents a specific danger for a child’s body. During frying, the changes in the chemical composition of the oil occur. These changes are characterized by deleterious nature. The biggest harm of oil is reached when foods are roasted at a very high temperature, when the oil is boiling for a long time. Reheating oil to an extremely high temperature leads to the formation of products of chemicals’ decomposition. In the process of cooking, the harmful substances enter the human body through the respiratory tract. After the cooking, most harmful substances are retained in the oil. Degradation products penetrate the human body and are accumulated therein. Hazardous substances are beginning to affect the gut, damaging its wall and mucosa.

Sweet drinks are faithful companions of fast food. They are composed of a very high sugar content, which means that their regular use will inevitably lead to tooth decay. Chemical dyes have an extremely negative impact on the work of the stomach, leading to the development of peptic ulcer disease and other serious pathologies. The same can be said for other sweets such as the popular chocolate bars and chewing candy.

Impact of Fast Food on Mental Abilities

The connection between obesity and fast food, as well as other health problems has long been established, but there is also an effect of fast food on children's success in learning. Children, who eat too much fast food, badly cope with their studies. Students, who consume more fast food, have shown slower progress in academic achievement. “Students who reported eating fast food once a day had slower growth in math, reading and science than students who ate no fast food” (Svokos). In order to enable a child to develop, its body should receive vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Rausch emphasizes that the lack of proteins makes children withdrawn and passive (1). Moreover, vitamins are crucial due to their contribution to brain functions and growth (Rausch 1). All of these elements are absent in fast foods. Additionally, Lewis states that fast food makes a child depressed, irritable, ruins his/her bedtime, and encourages to eat more.

Recommendations for Solving the Problem

A mandatory school menu item must include vegetables and fruits, should significantly increase the amount of whole grains, dairy products, and be low-fat. In addition, the allowable calorie menu should be designed with the account of the age of child’s age to reduce the risk of obesity. Fat intake should also be reduced. Such rules will better the quality standards of school lunches and contribute to improving the health and nutrition of children. It is important to enhance the quality of food, introduce pricing standards for school meals, as well as develop training programs for school staff.

Furthermore, it is crucial to fundamentally change the set of drinks and snacks that are sold in schools’ automata, so that they also respond to the principles of a healthy lifestyle. These transformations are aimed at changing the established traditions of the way American schools work. They change habits of children and draw public attention to the problem of childhood obesity and overweight, which affects about a third of students in the United States. Government agencies, scientists, doctors, business, educational institutions, and public organizations should be involved in the implementation of the program. They have to collect and collate information about the life and habits of modern Americans, belonging to different strata of society. Another task is the development of more effective methods of promoting healthy lifestyles. Besides, the sport activities should be organized as part of changes of children’s lifestyle.

In children’s lives, the quality of food lies with the parents. A kid will not be able to instill a foundation of its own nutrition and diet composition. All that children consume depends on the education of parents and habits that have been formed in the family. If parents do not eat healthy food, children will do the same (Grier, et.al. 223). Love of sweet or fatty food is formed already in childhood period, when parents cannot restrict access to unhealthy nutrition. Therefore, parents impact children’s attitude to specific meals and develop their preferences and habits.

Advantages of Fast Food

Certainly, for those who are always in a hurry and do not have time for a full meal, there are pluses of fast food. It is quick, convenient and delicious. After purchase, one will immediately get his portion of food, and can continue his journey by eating a hamburger. If a man stops to think about what is happening in his body at this moment, he will understand how dangerous fast food is. The harm of such food type is very high, and its products are the enemies of our digestive systems, because they relate to unhealthy food. Certainly, if one eats a hamburger per month, it will not do much harm to the body. Stein lists the following advantages of fast food: convenience, a variety of choices, and low cost. However, if a person consumes fast food meals regularly, as it happens everywhere in America, obesity and other problems could not be avoided. Thus, the problems with health that can be caused by fast food consumption are more important than its advantages.

Conclusion

Fast food is the main cause of obesity and the problems of the digestive system. Fast food rapidly gained popularity. Low cost, quick preparation and good taste attract people of all ages. Few people think about the negative consequences that may arise after consuming such foods. The main dangers of fast food for growing child’s organism consist in its following properties. It contributes to obesity and frequent digestive problems. Fast food increases the likelihood of developing diabetes and the level of cholesterol in blood. It is characterized by virtually full absence of vitamins and minerals, high level of salt, trans fat, and various additives. What’s more, fast food has negative effect on the mental development of children. Therefore, it is crucial to provide proper education and contribute to the formation of a healthy lifestyle among schoolchildren. Finally, it is crucial to implement measures that will forbid fast food in school cafeterias in order to avoid problems in the future.

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