Kids love it. Parents hate it. For a long time and for good reason, the fast food industry has been labeled down by health organizations. The battle between banning and allowing fast food brands from school grounds has been a continuous one, as schools strive for a variety of food whilst maintaining the health benefits. Fast food is a confirmed reason for teenage obesity that can escalate to more dangerous issues —dental diseases, depression, and high blood pressure — so what could be the possible argument to favor it?
“By three o’clock in the morning, I always find myself ordering a double cheeseburger from McDonald’s.”—Mi Le Jang, Senior
It doesn’t take one to realize that like most things, profit maximization plays a huge role in our decision-making process. In this case, the economic appeal is strong: the price for a fast food meal is significantly cheaper than that of a regular meal, with the bonus universal flavor, shorter waiting time, and higher calories. This appeals to three kinds of consumers: those with a shortage of money, those with a shortage of time, and those who lack both.
College students are an example of a population that is in short of cash. As many of them are already in student loan, eating “healthy” becomes another unbearable burden that needs to be cut short of. Also, college students have a habit of staying up during exam season. Junk food companies can provide food service at peculiar hours that regular food companies cannot. “By three o’clock in the morning, I always find myself ordering a double cheeseburger from McDonald’s.” This sense of convenience is exactly what students need. However, many long-term consequences that follow junk food cannot trump the imminent wealth and time crisis that students are facing.
The same goes for low-income workers. Often, they hurry their day on with little time and budget to eat. For a taxi-driver in Singapore, their hourly pay falls between $14-20 with the condition that they operate their vehicle at almost all times. The more time they spend on eating, the less they have for work. This results in many choosing to eat on the go, meaning they will have to eat whatever food they happen to find nearby quickly in their car. Despite being a bad habit, it is necessary for a lot of them to prioritize what they earn over what they eat.
“The add-on vegetables in cafe are free but no one asks for them.”—Jojo Park, Senior
Over time, fast food has become a lifestyle for the populations that these examples represent. While critics might point out the many side effects of fast food in hopes of banning this industry completely, we should shed light on this matter in an alternative perspective. The government can provide subsidies for fast food restaurants so that they can maintain their current price level, with a boost of healthier ingredients. Another option is to focus on making what is conventionally considered to be “healthy food” cheaper and more convenient.
There are many ways to modify our own eating behaviors that encourage a healthier lifestyle. For example, senior Jojo Park shared a cheap way that levels up your lunch meal. “The add-on vegetables in the cafeteria are free, but no one asks for them.” Other than free vegetables, she recommends to not store any junk food at home because more exposure to them equals a greater chance of eating it. By the end of the day, a healthy body and mind is the key to a healthier lifestyle. Investing more money and time onto food with nutritious values might seem pointless at times, but the long term benefit is forever.