Obesity Causes Fast Food

The link between fast food and obesity seems simple enough: Fast food is notoriously high in fats, sugar, salt and calories. It makes sense that anyone who consumes fast food on a regular basis will gain weight. Rates of obesity in America have increased steadily over the last 30 years, a time period that has witnessed an explosion in numbers of fast food restaurants, vending machines and convenience stores.

It has, however, been difficult to prove a direct connection between obesity in America and fast food consumption. Obesity research, like other sciences, can’t rely on supposed connections: Empirical proof is required to establish a connection between fast food and health problems, but this proof is beginning to come to light.

Fast Food: Health Problems

The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study (2010) monitored the eating habits, recreation and activity levels of 3,021 young adults over 15 years. The results suggested that fast food can cause extensive health issues, and that the connection goes beyond fast food and obesity.

CARDIA revealed that people who ate fast food two or more times a week experienced an average weight gain of 10 pounds more than study participants who ate fast food less than once a week. The study also proved that regular fast food consumption increased the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. This risk is heightened further with other lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption, little exercise and smoking.

Fast Food - Obesity and Fast Food

Fast Food Statistics: Geography and Obesity

A study by the University of California at Berkeley (2009) determined that, for children at least, easy access to fast food outlets increased the risk of obesity. A fast food restaurant within a tenth of a mile of a school increased the risk of obesity in ninth graders by 5.2 percent. The study suggests that zoning laws restricting fast food outlets within a set distance of schools could combat childhood obesity in America.

Fast Food and Obesity: Who Is Responsible for Obesity in America?

A survey by the Pew Research Center (2006) reports that almost 20 percent of Americans eat at fast food restaurants at least twice a week. Fast food companies vie with each other to attract customers with bigger and bigger portions (the expression “super-size me” was unknown until a few years ago). Food advertising is intended to stimulate the appetite, and fast food is, for most urban families, within easy walking distance or can even be delivered. Fast food is everywhere in modern society, and the link between fast food and obesity is only now being explored.

Let us presume that there is a fast food/health link; does this make fast food companies responsible for the increase of obesity in America? Some would argue yes, that fast food restaurants are knowingly providing unhealthy choices that encourage weight gain. Others note that people choose to eat fast food, and claim that responsibility lies with the individual. The truth perhaps, lies somewhere in between. People do choose to eat fast food, but it’s also true that advertising and convenience make it difficult to avoid fast food–and its effects on obesity in America.


Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults. (2010). Coronary artery risk development in young adults. Retrieved July 26, 2010, from http://www.cardia.dopm.uab.edu/index.htm.

Health State. (2007). The correlation between fast food and obesity in America. Retrieved April, 13 2010, from http://www.healthstate.info/the-correlation-between-fast-food-and-obesity-in-america/.

Maclay, K. (2009). Linking fast food proximity to obesity. Retrieved April 13, 2010, from http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2009/03/04_obesity.shtml.

Murray, B. (2001). Fast-food culture serves up super-size Americans. Retrieved April 13, 2010, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/dec01/fastfood.aspx.

National Bureau of Economic Research. (n.d.). Do fast food restaurants contribute to obesity? Retrieved April 13, 2010, from http://www.nber.org/aginghealth/2009no1/w14721.html.

Pew Research Center. (2006). Eating more; Enjoying less. Retrieved April 13, 2010, from http://pewresearch.org/pubs/309/eating-more-enjoying-less.

Science Daily. (2005). 15-year study shows strong link between fast food, obesity and insulin resistance. Retrieved April 13, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050111152135.htm.