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Alarming increase in fast food consumption
Alarming increase in fast food consumption: What do we about this trend?
According to Collins dictionary fast food is defined as, “fast food is hot food, such as hamburgers and chips, that you obtain from particular types of restaurant, and which is served quickly after you order it”. The term “fast food” was recognized in a dictionary by Merriam-Webster in 1951.
While any meal which can be prepared in a short amount of time can be considered to be fast food, typically the term refers to food sold in a restaurant or store with preheated or precooked ingredients, and served to the customer in a packaged form for takeout/take away.
Fast food industry growth
The fast food phenomenon is more related to urban development. Whether we like it or not it is here to stay and it is only going to grow. In 2006, the global fast food market grew by 4.8% and reached a value of 102.4 billion and a volume of 80.3 billion transactions. In India alone the fast food industry is growing by 41% a year. The fast food industry in India has evolved with the changing lifestyles of the young Indian population.
There are several reasons for the growth of this industry at such a phenomenal rate.
It could be because of –
Busy life styles therefore less time for home cooking
More women going out to work
Easy availability of different types of food at reasonable cost
Exposure to different cuisines
Fast food is here to stay
There is no ignoring of the fact that fast foods are here to stay. Let us accept it and see what we can do about making it healthier rather than raving and ranting about the evils of fast food. Yes, we should work at increasing the awareness about the unhealthy aspects of fast food and hope people cut down on it, but till then let us work to make fast food safer.
What fast food industry can do?
We should encourage the fast food industry to make their foods healthy and that they should have more healthy options on the menu. This is the only way they can get away from the criticism that fast foods are not healthy. If they can serve healthy foods that are made adhering to food safety standards both the industry and the consumer would benefit.
Fast food industry and obesity
The general opinion is that fast foods are high in calories and hence promote obesity and other lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and heart problems. There is a great need on the industry part to break away from this image and that can be done only with a lot of effort. They need to look at the foods they are offering and make a conscious effort to serve healthy food to the consumer so that they are in business for a long time and with some social responsibility.
The alarming rates at which obesity, diabetes and heart diseases are increasing the fast food industry needs to take certain steps and make sure they are not contributing to these numbers. There is no way we can deny the youngsters all the time what they want to eat. Since they are a generation who are very smart, if healthy and convenient alternatives are offered, we can be sure they will opt for them in the long run.
Some things to keep in mind when eating at a fast food restaurant:
As consumers we also need to take certain steps while eating at fast food places.
- Choose salads with light dressing not something smothered with high fat dressing.
- Drink water with your meal and not take soft drinks with it. Order your sauce separately so that you do not smother your veggies and food with high calorie sauces and add only how much you want.
- Choose smaller portion size, avoid fried foods, avoid buffets where most people tend to eat more to get their money’s worth, avoid combo meals etc.
- Just think before you order and this way you will order food that is healthy for you.
- Teach your children basic principles of nutrition, set good example and they will follow suit. Also encourage them to eat at home more and limit fast foods to twice a week.
Cooking at home
A lot of young men and women think of cooking as a boring chore unless it is something exotic. Cooking does not figure in their busy schedule as does gym going or other activities. Some of them even say that if cost and health were not constraining factors they would never cook at home.
Cooking should be an activity everyone in the family participates, no gender difference here. If the woman of the house is busy the man of the house and the kids can still rustle up a meal and this should be the scene in every household. Get everyone to take interest in cooking and eating together.
Fast foods are quick and easy substitutes for home cooking. They fit well into our busy lifestyles, but remember fast foods are most of the time high in calories, fat, sugar, and salt. Fast-food is cheap, convenient, and tasty.
Fast food industry and consumers need to think about life style diseases
Therefore, it is not surprising that fast food industry is growing in popularity. We have to take collective steps and see that the industry also benefits and the consumers also gain. The consumer should demand healthy options from the fast food industry and the industry should also make an effort to provide the same. Let all of us, that is both the fast food industry and consumer, take the lifestyle diseases seriously and act responsibly.