In modern days, the developed countries worldwide spend significant resources on the treatment of obesity and the diseases associated with it. Both medical and surgical approaches to obesity are costly. In addition, they are not always effective, especially in the long-term perspective. Therefore, preventive measures are extremely important for addressing obesity. It is necessary to solve the problem of how to prevent the emergence and further spread of obesity. Most people begin to suffer from the condition in childhood. Thus, it is necessary to control the weight at an early age. As a precaution measure, the government of every country should ban the sale of fast food near schools and in school cafeterias.
According to nutritionists, the most harmful fast foods are French fries, sweet drinks, potato chips, crackers, candy sticks, synthetic lunches, and sausages. All of the aforementioned products contain a great number of harmful substances that cause a serious damage to the health of children. The particular harm of fast food consists in the imbalance of nutrition. Fast food includes the excess carbohydrates and fats, a significant lack of proteins, vitamins, and trace elements, as well as the content of stabilizers, preservatives, acrylamide, and solid fats. The food presents low value, as children’s bodies receive extra calories and carbohydrates that turn into fat. The author Jeri Freedman (2008) states that “Eating fast food could add as much as six pounds per year to the weight of a child” (p. 14). In addition, due to the high content of various chemical additives, fast food can cause addiction. Taste and smell of fast food products are created artificially with the help of chemicals. Therefore, the unhealthy food looks very appetizing and is several times cheaper than natural food. Firstly, with an average hamburger, the child’s body receives a large amount of stabilizers, preservatives, and emulsifiers. Secondly, the child’s body takes acrylamide, as chemical that results from heating carbohydrate-rich foods, generated in fried or heated in the oven products (Freedman, 2008). Acrylamide causes genetic mutations in the body and the formation of tumors of the abdominal cavity (Freedman, 2008). Thirdly, the solid types of fats with a large amount of trans-fatty acids, which affect the immune system, increase the risk of diabetes, asthma, and the abnormal development of the heart muscle.
Over the past ten years, the number of children aged from six to ten years suffering from obesity has increased by two times (Freedman, 2008). Moreover, among adolescents, the figure is by three times higher (Freedman, 2008). It is obvious that fast food is not the sole cause of obesity. Nevertheless, the unhealthy products greatly contribute to its development. In the book Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, it is stated that “The American School Food Service Association estimates that about 30 percent of the public high schools in the United States offer branded fast food” (Schlosser, 2012, p. 56). Therefore, the sale of fast food products such as crackers, chips, fast food, noodles, instant mashes, and soda should be banned in school canteens and near schools. The administration should replace them with useful yogurt, curds, pastries, tea, juices, non-carbonated mineral water, and jelly.
In addition to fast food, carbonated drinks such as cola should also be banned in schools cafeteria. The drink causes great harm to the child’s body. A glass of cola contains a daily rate of sugar of five teaspoons. On the other hand, such varieties of cola as “light” cola do not contain sugar (Freedman, 2008). Nevertheless, they even more dangerous because their composition contains sugar substitutes. Aspartame is one of them. It is a synthetic substance that provokes headaches, depression, fatigue, palpitations, and cancers. When children drink cold cola after greasy fast food, for example French fries, enormous harm to the body occur. Gastric juice diluted with cold carbonated liquid ceases to cope with the digestion. Fat solidifies and creates dead weight in the digestive organs, abdominal cavity, and vessels (Freedman, 2008). Any affected lemonade is harmful. However, cola and similar drinks cause the most damage to health. Children should drink filtered, mineral, and better non-carbonated water.
The fight for healthy eating in schools cafeterias takes place in many states today. The governments of many countries have already adopted the law, according to which the selling of fast food is banned near schools. They declared war on childhood obesity and fast food in school cafeterias. Under the new law, schools should only sell pure water, juices, low-fat milk and no cola. The UK Education Minister announced a widespread ban of fast food at schools (Ladner, 2013). However, the law is not enacted completely as vending sweets, crisps, and sugary soda have appeared outlaw.
The famous chef Jamie Oliver became the initiator of the fight against unhealthy child’s diet (Stewart, 2014). In one of the TV programs, he raises the issues of school meals (Stewart, 2014). The cook has conducted an experiment at American schools. He has selected several schools and agreed with their administrations to feed students with the menu designed by the chef. Instead of hot dogs and pizzas, students in school cafeterias have eaten baked turkey with vegetables. When usual pizzas, burgers, and sausages disappeared from school canteens and cafeterias, students violently protested. In several schools, they have even declared a demonstrative hunger strike. However, in two weeks, the situation has changed dramatically. Students liked Oliver’s dishes. According to Jamie Oliver, any fast food not only harms health, but also affects the mental development of children. Healthy nutrition has led to the fact that children have studied better. Moreover, children have become healthier. Jamie Oliver presented the results of the experiment in one of his programs. It has caused a strong reaction in the community. The cook has collected about 300 thousand signatures supporting the demand to change school meals, and made an appointment with the Prime Minister (Stewart, 2014). “Later, Oliver took on schools in the United States using a similar televised intervention approach” (Stewart, 2014). Jamie Oliver was able to draw the authorities’ attention to the problems of the fast foods’ negative influence on the development of children.
In 2003, it was decided to ban the sale of sugary soda and sweets in vending machines in all schools in New York (Ladner, 2013). Instead, students can buy a bottle of plain water, natural juices, and diet chips with the reduced content of salt and fat. In school cafeterias, the content of salt, sugar, and fat in foods was drastically reduced. Some dishes that can lead to obesity were completely excluded from the menu. In turn, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger banned all fast food products in school canteens (Ladner, 2013). Texas also adopted the law banning the sale of potato chips, chocolate, sweet soda, and rich pastries in schools canteens (Ladner, 2013). However, in two weeks, the department of the school education started receiving numerous calls from outraged parents and teachers (Ladner, 2013). They protested against the ban on cupcakes, which is a traditional American dessert. As a result, officials made an exception allowing the cupcakes, but only on the occasion of birthdays and after lunch leaving the size of muffins at the discretion of parents (Ladner, 2013). According to the activists, the ban on fast food in school cafeterias is the first step. The governments should ban the selling of fast food products near schools as well (Ladner, 2013).
However, there are some doctors that consider that fast food causes less harm than the fact that children will not eat at schools at all (Ladner, 2013). According to their opinion, if there are no tasty fast food products at schools, children will avoid eating lunch (Ladner, 2013). The children’s weight depends not only on the total energy intake, but also on how often they eat. People that eat more than three times a day suffer from obesity by 45% less than individuals, who eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner only (Ladner, 2013). The connection has simple explanation. Abundant food leads to an abrupt release of insulin in the blood. It results in excess glucose is supplied in the tissues. In its turn, it stimulates the formation of adipose tissue. Frequent failures of lunch and particularly breakfast increase the risk of overweight on average four times. Each missed breakfast or lunch causes the feeling of hunger and, hence, makes dinner more plentiful. As a result, according to some doctors, it is better if children eat fast food at schools rather than does not eat at all (Ladner, 2013). However, most of the nutritionists consider that fast food is extremely harmful to children. School cafeterias should cook healthy and tasty food and, thus, children will soon forget about unhealthy products.
Obesity is a disease of modern society. Both children and adults suffer from the excess weight. Obesity in children appears not due to the lack of exercise, but by consuming food with high content of sugar, salt, and fat. The combination of bad nutrients is fast food. The products cause serious damage to the development of children from both mental and physical sides. Children should exclude unhealthy products from their menu. There are different opinions about the ban of fast food at schools. Nevertheless, most of the doctors and nutritionists believe that the government of every country should ban fast food in school canteens and near schools.