Dec 13, 2017 in Research

Reduce the Harms of Junk Food to Teenagers

Background

Nowadays, the trend of eating junk food is catching up with every teenager. Most teenagers love junk food because it is quickly cooked and delicious. Basically, junk food is sold in grocery stores or restaurants with precooked or preheated ingredients. Recent studies indicate that teenagers are consuming junk food at an alarming rate. Therefore, most junk food advertising  is primarily focused on teenagers. However, many teenagers are not aware of the health effects of consuming junk food. The food on the picture is a good example of junk food. Such food looks nice, it tastes well, but is disastrous.

Figure 1: Example of Junk Food                        

This research study will focus on the consumption of junk food among teenagers and its effects. Many students love eating junk food because it is low-priced, delicious, and easy-to-get. Junk food generally refers to foods that contribute lots of calories but little nutritional value. There are many kinds of junk food, including snack foods, candy, sweet desserts, sugary carbonated beverages, burgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, French fries, pizzas, and etc. Many foods such as hamburgers, pizza, and tacos can be considered either healthy or junk food, depending on their ingredients and preparation methods with the more highly processed items usually falling under the junk food category (“Junk Food” 2). Despite the consumption of junk food being popular, most of the teenagers know totally nothing regarding the health effects associated with the consumption of junk food. In most cases they have troubles resisting the urge to taste the food when the shelves of grocery stores, commercials and fast food restaurants are overfilled with treats. Hence, it is important for a research study to demonstrate the effects of eating junk food among teenagers.

This research study will also look on ways of reducing the harms of junk food to teenagers. One possible way is to reduce the availability of junk food is informing about its effects at schools. It would be very beneficial if the consumption of junk food among the teenagers would reduce at school because, typically, students spend most of their time there, interacting with their peers. It is through this interaction that they are swayed by their peers to eat junk food. And schools’ dining places usually have plenty junk food for sale. During class breaks, teenagers swarm into dining halls to buy snacks or purchase them from vending machines. There are other possible ways to reduce the harms, such as schools offering nutrition class and grocery stores selling teenagers modified “junk food.”

The topic of junk food is very controversial. It elicits debate whenever it is mentioned. The argument against junk food gets most backing from the health experts. This is primarily because they have conducted extensive research on the effects of junk food on teenagers; hence, they are justified in opposing the consumption of junk food. Additionally, parents have begun to realize the harms of teenagers’ eating habits; however, they do not have a good method to keep teenagers away from junk food. On the other hand, teenagers love eating junk food and they are largely affected by what their peers’ are doing. Even the images of fat people do not discourage them against eating junk food either at school, at home or at restaurant.

The issue of junk food is thought-provoking and exciting because the majority of American teenagers consume junk food on a daily basis and seems to be not concerned with the negative health effects (Spurlock 195). Most of the diseases including heart attacks, high blood pressure, cancers, diabetes and obesity have been closely associated with consumption of junk food. Out of all these diseases, obesity takes a central role when it comes to harmful effects of eating junk food among teenagers. Moreover, many teenagers eat junk food, oblivious of its harmful effects.

I remember that many of my old friends gained massive weight in a short time when they were teenagers. For example, Nibin is a close friend of mine who gained nearly 20 pounds in a span of four weeks when we were still in elementary school. He used to eat pizza and hot dogs after school. I came to learn that he gained that much weight because he ate a lot of junk food, which is against the recommendations of medical experts. Other kids called him “Junk Food Dude” just as the boy in the book “The Adventures of Junk Food Dude.” Undoubtedly, my experience with Nibin enabled me to see the devastating health effects associated with the consumption of junk food. The below image clearly demonstrates the effect of consumption of junk food in teenagers.

Research Objectives

  • To establish the harmful effects of junk food consumption to the teenagers’ life
  • To determine ways of reducing the harms of junk food to teenagers

Research Questions

  • What is the effect of junk food consumption to teenagers’ life?
  • What are the ways of reducing the harms of junk food to teenagers?

Significance of the Study

There is a huge variety of junk food available in the United States, which makes the issue severe than any other country. What is most importantly to note is that teenagers take having junk food every day as an eating habit. These junk foods may lead to diseases and health problems. Disturbingly, not many teenagers are aware of the health effects of eating junk food. The information obtained through this study will facilitate the determination of ways of reducing the harms of junk food to teenagers. More so, further research can be conducted from the information obtained.

Purpose of the Research Study

Junk food is a key issue since its consumption negatively affects teenagers in that they might become obese or suffer from heart-related diseases. Many countries look upon the United States; therefore, it would be prudent for it to take bold step in educating the teenagers on the dangers of consuming large amounts of junk food. For this reason, it is important to conduct a study on the consumption of junk food among teenagers. Ultimately, the purpose of this research study is to determine ways of reducing the harms of junk food to teenagers.

Audiences

The results will be presented to parents. I intend to use the results to persuade parents to comprehend the effects and convince them that their children were exposing themselves to those negative effects while eating huge amounts of junk food. Some of the parents might not be cognizant of the harmful effects of eating junk food. Therefore, by interacting with them, I hope that they will realize the effects of junk food. Hence, they can take measures to ensure that their children do not consume junk food.

Furthermore, the results will be presented to the administrators of schools. I will send my final report to the administrative office and hope the report can catch their attention. Through the report, schools would be made aware of the health dangers students were exposing themselves to by consuming junk food and schools’ responsibility of taking care of students’ health, as well as their study. Furthermore, schools will be presented with suggested ways of reducing the harms of junk food to teenagers. If they implement these suggestions, the health hazards associated with junk food will be a gone case in a few months.

Lastly, the results will be presented to junk food companies. Many junk food companies target kids as their future customers, and if they can build brand loyalty now, they will have a customer for life. However, I think it is a short-sighted business strategy. People have been increasing their attention on living a healthy life. Once a company invents a healthy substitute for junk food, other junk food companies will easily lose the competition. Therefore, it is significant to make the companies aware that producing healthy food is beneficial for teenagers and also the long-term growth of the company.

Discussion

Fast food effect is a great concern affecting people around the world. A lot of individuals and companies have created campaigns to notify and educate people. All of them have the same aim - to prevent the consequences of fast food. Since fast food consumption impact caused campaigns in mass media, communities and schools have been forced to reach various discourse organizations and the genre of these campaigns covers various information.

Nowadays, the United States has the biggest fast food industry than any other country in the world. It also adds to the problem that teens see advertisements with tasty junk food everywhere, they are tempted to try it and think they become cool consuming it. However, an average meal at a fast food joint has about 1000 to 1500 calories. That is half of daily calorie intake of a teenager. Teenagers often overeat because of the large portions served. Teens with extra weight are less likely to take part in sports and more likely to transform into couch potatoes. They are at risk of becoming fat, and it has both psychological and health dangers. Overweight teens have to live with teasing at school. This can affect their development and cause low self-esteem. Eating poorly can lead to a vicious cycle of eating more than required, low self-esteem, anti-social behavior, fatigue and even depression. If they are overweight in adulthood, they can be prone to overweight related diseases, like diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart problems and gout. Frequent consumption of junk food makes teens face the risk of developing insulin resistance. Junk food has no nutrition value and makes such harms to teenage body as overweight, chronic degenerative diseases, cardio-vascular problems, high blood pressure, heart diseases, affection of the oxygen flow to the brain cells and others. It also causes a constant feeling of hunger, fatigue and tiredness. Teen over-weight usually leads to consequences like depression which has negative influence on the development and growth, social relationships, performance in school and can sometimes lead to suicide.  

The harmful effect and consequences of eating fast food were not clear at the beginning. With time, campaigns have been promoted to make the community aware of these consequences and make people develop a healthier diet. Contrary to it, fast food joints use various forms of marketing to promote their products. Advertising on television, radio, restaurants, websites and signs as well as social media are all creating advertisements to affect the community about fast food. However, there are a lot of campaigns which try to avert dangers from consuming junk food. The purpose of such campaigns is to improve knowledge about the dangerous consequences on both direct and long term health diseases because of eating at fast food restaurants. They provide statistics, reports, nutrition facts, information about growing overweight problems in the United States. These camaigns generally express knowledge to younger adults about the influence of nutrition and healthy lifestyles by concentrating on the hazardous effects of junk food.

Conclusion

The teen years are the time of quick physical and emotional development. The food nutrients are the fuel for this growth, and nutritious diet is important for good health when you are a teenager. Junk food contains items like sweets, chips and soda that are high in calories and fat but nutritionally low. Understanding the junk food effect on teens' growth helps to stress on the importance of a healthy diet.

Junk food seems to be appealing beacause of its price, taste and convenience. Children do not usually understand the consequences of this kind of food because it is so appetizing and they easily become addicted (Fleck). Of course, teenagers can sometimes have a burger or pizza, about once a week. But they should be prompted to this kind of food in smaller portions. Adults have to let them know about other food options and the bad effects of junk food. Once they are aware of what they eat, they may go for healthier food. Parents can only tell them more about what they eat. The idea is to attach eating habits from the very beginning, but avoid overdoing it. It is good to keep a combination of both healthy and not healthy snacks at home. Sometimes, teenagers should be allowed to have a soda. The harder they are pushed on, the more they resist. So, it is necessary to find the balance - not too hard, not too lenient.

The greatest problem is that junk food is easy to reach, delicious and not too expensive. It is also has a lot of fat and refined starch, and almost no fiber and is highly processed. Teens eat burgers, French fries, pizzas with soda that contains lots of calories. Fast food restaurants are also great places to have fun with friends.

In order to avert the global problem, all possible informative means should be used to make teenagers realize the hamful effects of junk food. It is not necessary to avoid eating it, but it is of vital importance to avoid the habit of eating such food. The conclusion is that young individuals must eat less of the calorie-dense, nutrient-poor meals served at fast food joints. Schools and parents can do a lot to make children aware of healthy choices. First of all, fast food joints must strongly change their current marketing practices, that teenagers and children do not receive ongoing encouragement to look for food that will greatly damage their health. Additionally, when young individuals visit, the joints should do more to help them make more healthy choices.

My Opinion

I strongly believe the traditional eating habits of American teenagers is not healthy, mostly because they eat too much junk food. However, I do not think sufficient efforts have been put in place to educate teenagers on the harmful effects of consuming junk food. The number of obese teenagers keeps on increasing at an alarming rate. Also, the number of health-related cases caused by the intake of junk food keeps on increasing every day. Evidently, this shows that most teenagers are either not aware of the harmful effects of junk food or are just ignorant of the consequences. I believe an extensive research needs to be conducted in this area to provide schools, parents, and teenagers themselves with adequate information on the extent of effect of junk food consumption. Ultimately, such a research would yield suggestions on how people can work together to reduce the harms of junk food to teenagers.

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