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Grasping the handle, you swing open the door and it transports you to your favorite fast food restaurant. The aroma of the French fries mesmerizes you. The line to order is long, but it goes by fast. Soon enough, you are at the front of the line. While ordering a burger and fries, you decide to get a soft drink also. Why not? It’s a meal combo; you’ll save money. In no less than ten seconds, your food is right in front of you. The mountain layers of cheese and fried beef can barely even fit in your mouth with taking only one gigantic bite. Grabbing and stuffing some crisp fries into your mouth, your greasy fingers go toward the humongous coke, and soon lead you into a food coma. Glancing around, everyone around you is following the same pattern. It’s just an ordinary day at a fast food restaurant. The increasing consumption of fast food and junk food has lead to an epidemic of obesity and various diseases. What is an epidemic of obesity? It’s a widespread increase (almost like a disease) of being greatly corpulent or overweight.  A lot of the foods all around us are high in various types of fats and contain an abnormally large amount of carbohydrates. Tying it all together, industries even trick our society to buy more of their food. It’s devastating to see people mindlessly buying all this junk food knowing that they are all unaware of the dangers it can cause toward your health and even your life. Junk food and fast food are the main reasons for the obesity epidemic and diseases.Fast and junk food cause obesity from being extremely high in various types of fat and some can even lead to deadly diseases that are a result of obesity. The different types of fat you consume will determine your weight gain. Each of the many types of fat can cause fatal diseases. Fast food is very dense and contains high fatty acids or IP-TFA (Astrup). Fat is so dense that if we eat more of it, we have more energy to burn. People started buying ‘Fat-Free’ product thinking that it is healthy, but there was no change in their weight ( fat is a type of fat that is sold at room temperature and can become sour. Saturated fat is common in meat, dairy, eggs coconut, and nuts (Merritt). In the documentary ‘Fed Up,’ there was a 12-year-old, 212-pound girl named Maggie. She started swimming four days a week and walked her dog often. Her mother also started buying fat-free products, but nothing improved. The fact is the phrase calories in, calories out is nonsense. Let’s say you eat almonds containing 160 calories. It will not dissolve immediately, so your blood sugar will be lower. In return, more fiber will be produced. Whereas, let’s say you drink 160 calories hidden in Cocoa-Cola. There’s no fiber in this unhealthy soft drink, so the liver receives a big sugar rush. It has no choice but to turn it into fat. “Just like cigarettes increase your chance to get lung cancer, some food literally makes you fat” (Soechtig).Trans and Hydrogenated fats are extremely dangerous and can cause a higher rate of heart disease. We are trying to get this type of fat removed from the industry. It appears in foods that are uncooked and raw like cookie and crescent dough. Recently, food industries have started to replace Trans and Hydrogenated fats with triglycerides which decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease (Merritt).An article from the Harvard School of Public Health states that if you consume more calories than you need, you will gain weight. Fats are dense in calories so logically a high-fat diet will make you gain weight. However, research showed that even though the amount of fat in our diet has decreased in the last 30 years, rates of obesity have exploded. The explanation for that, researchers say maybe the increased consumption of refined sugars in a low-fat diet which leads to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. Clinical trials in the Nurses Health Study have shown that the quality of fat is important. Fats from plant sources or unsaturated fats help you lose weight whereas saturated fats from animal sources cause weight gain. A high-fat diet is linked to obesity which is the second major killer after smoking which causes 400,000 deaths annually. Obesity causes 300,000 deaths a year, much higher than car accidents, guns, and alcohol. Obesity has been linked to being a factor in many diseases but especially heart disease, the number one killer. (Masters) High levels of cholesterol in saturated fats circulate in the arteries and get deposited as plaques which can rupture. When this occurs in the arteries of the heart, it can block them causing a heart attack due to lack of blood supply and oxygen to the heart muscle. Obesity has been linked to strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancers including lung, breast and colon cancers and arthritis. One-third of adults in the US are obese. (Masters) Overwhelming evidence evidently shows that the obesity epidemic and disease has clearly been driven by junk food and fast food. Carbohydrates, otherwise known as sugar, are the main nutrient in our body. As a macronutrient, it can give you a lot of fuel, but if you leave that energy to waste, excess fat will continuously build up in your body. Let’s say you drink 200 calorie coke. Many people think that they will easily burn all of the calories off, but everyone is looking at the wrong part in the Nutrition Facts section. Not many people know this, but if you look carefully, you can see every that on every section of the label like total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, has a percentage on the amount of it contained in the product. So why doesn’t sugar have a percentage?   When our society started realizing that fats were the reason people were becoming morbidly obese, the food industry decided to take them out of products. (Soechtig) When you take the fat part out of the food, it tastes awful, and the food industry knew that. So what could they replace fat with in order to make it more appealing to consumers? One word; Sugar. Many people started buying fat-free products as a ‘healthier choice’. You go to the grocery store, and at the bottom of your list is ranch dressing. There are two options; regular ranch and another bottle that has an extra label in big letters; New and Improved; Half the Fat! The food industry might as well write; New and Improved with Double the Sugar! (Soechtig)Delicious and addicting are two perfect adjectives to describe a word that has brainwashed our society; Sugar. Sugar is a dose-dependent hepatic (liver) toxin. (Soechtig) Fructose, which is the sweet part of sugar, can only be processed by the liver, so when the liver is pushed to its max, your pancreas tries to help. To assist, the pancreas makes extra hormones called insulin which then turns into fat. (Soechtig) High insulin can also block your brain from receiving messages that your stomach has reached its capacity. This is the worst part because you feel even hungrier. When you’re famished, some common signs are laziness and feeling fatigued. From feeling non-energetic, it will restrain you from doing physical activities, but it all starts with taking one bite of food that is sugary.Cookies, Cakes, and fast food are not the only junk food in this world. It’s absurd to know that a can of coke has the same amount of sugar as a bottle of Odwalla juice. Fruit has fiber in the sugar, so it isn’t absorbed as quickly. Whereas in fruit juice, you take out all the fiber so you might as well be having a soft drink.  It’s not just juice because 80% of the items in a grocery store have added sugar. Sugar can also come across as many labels, and some are Anhydrous Dextrose, brown sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, corn sweetener, and corn syrup. Some people may think that diet products like Diet Coke are healthier, but in reality, it triggers your pancreas to produce even more insulin. You could take a bowl of corn flakes and add milk or you can take a bowl of sugar and have it with milk. Surprise, surprise; they are both equally as bad. (Soechtig)Let’s take a journey in a day of the life of an average kid, and see what they eat. Keep in mind that we are recommended by American Heart Association that we should have 6-9 teaspoons of sugar daily. For breakfast, you have a bowl of cereal with orange juice. That itself already rounds up to about 8.5 teaspoons. For lunch, you will have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a side of coke, and in total for lunch that’s 18 teaspoons of sugar. Before starting homework, you need to have a little snack to get some energy. How about Nutella with breadsticks which are 5.75 teaspoons of sugar? To finish off the day, you eat a salad, pasta with tomato sauce, and soft drink which is 8.75 teaspoons. So, we are supposed to have 9 teaspoons of sugar at the most, and you ended up having 41 teaspoons of sugar today. It’s an unbelievable difference, but obesity doesn’t occur with just one meal, Salad, Pasta with tomato sauce, and soft drink has 8.75 teaspoons of sugar, but not just one unhealthy meal, it’s extra sugar added up from everyday. By just taking the time once a day to glance at the nutrition label, the amount of sugar you consume daily could increase dramatically.Some may argue that inactivity is the main reason for obesity. If you don’t exercise, there’s no possible way you could lose all the fat inside of you. It’s calories in, calories out, right? In the 1980s, exercise became very popular, and the number of club memberships doubled in the United States, but so did obesity rates. You can exercise day and night, but if your eating habits are still the same, nothing will change. Others may insist that these companies offering junk food are trying to help our society with the obesity epidemic. In 2010, Michelle Obama started the ‘Let’s Move’ campaign to help kids eat healthily and educate people about the dangers of junk and fast food. Food industries reacted in terror when Michelle took a stance, so they partnered up with her. The Healthy Weight commitment which is a partnership between 16 corporations which included Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Hershey’s partnered with Michelle. They also agreed to reformulate their foods. These companies went on talk show interviews and kept on stating how much they were helping our environment, but in reality, they were only removing 14 calories a day for one child which is absolutely nothing. Michelle created the ‘Let’s Move’ campaign to change the way industries create their foods, but since the government was getting money from all the junk food industries, the ‘Let’s Move’ campaign turned into a promotion for exercise, which was absolutely steering away from what Michelle intended to bring awareness to.Although there are many ingredients to junk food and fast food that cause obesity and many diseases, what actually makes an average person so addicted to these types of foods? The truth is; the food industry knows that the earlier they introduce sugary foods to children, the more likely they will buy them in the future. Sugar is so addicting that if it’s next to you, you have to eat it. In a Princeton study, 43 cocaine-addicted rats were given the choice of sugar and cocaine water for a 15 day period, and 40/43 chose the sugar water. When the sugar was taken away from the rats, they exhibited withdrawal symptoms like craving and binging. It’s like if there’s alcohol right next to an alcoholic the person will definitely drink it, and it’s the same scenario with unhealthy foods. Knowing this, industries try to make their foods very tempting to buy. Gas stations used to be just for gas, and now they sell junk food. All this fattening food is always right before the cashier at kid’s eye level, and on top of that, they add cartoons to make it more attractive for younger kids. For example, McDonalds has toys hidden inside of their meals to make it more irresistible to children. McDonalds also has a character called Ronald McDonald that appears in most of their ads. Ronald McDonald traps kids into eating their food through ‘magic’ and ‘fun’ in the commercials on television. Fast food on TV is also portrayed as very cheap. In the commercials, it’s always; Family Meal, just for $5! or Meal Combo, save money!  What most people don’t know is that you can eat healthy on a budget.  Why isn’t that advertised instead of Fast Food?         Walking into the school cafeteria, you see that the choices of foods to pick from are endless. Actually, let’s rephrase that; the choices of fast foods to pick from are endless. There is a small section of the cafeteria which has healthier options, but as a teenager would you rather have a burger or a salad with a soup. It’s obvious that between the two choices, any kid would prefer the burger. Food industries know that kids are more vulnerable and try to get them to fall into their trap. All around you, there are always signs of food trying to lure you, and sometimes you don’t even realize it. One example is TV commercials for foods. In a study done in the film ‘Fed Up’, there were kids placed in front of a TV with a bowl of snacks. With just playing non-food commercials, only a few of the kids took a small portion of the snacks. Next, they grabbed a different group of kids, and with the same setup they started playing food commercials, but this time, the number of snacks taken was increased by 40%. Although it may seem hard to believe, food industries have many secrets to entice us into buying their products. In conclusion, overwhelming clearly shows that the obesity epidemic and disease has clearly been driven by junk food and fast food. First, being high in unhealthy fats leads to extreme weight gain and onto many diseases. Second, carbohydrates or sugar are hidden in unimaginable foods to enhance their palatability and become more addicting. Lastly, the food industry has many tricks up their sleeves to induce you to become lifelong consumers of their products. To fix this, it requires a multi-pronged approach, but if we educate younger kids about the dangers of this type of food, this dilemma could be solved. We need to show parents that there are healthier alternatives, and fast food chains have to be banned from schools. What if for every unhealthy product, there was a warning label on the front of it? What if for every commercial a famous person did, the person also did one for fruits? What if nutrition education was required in every school? As a society we cannot just sit here and wait for this problem to fix by itself we need to work for it and take action. The health effects of junk food and fast food are catastrophic, and because of these types of foods, we are putting ourselves in danger. We are risking our health. We are eating ourselves sick, and is it really worth taking away your life for food?

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