Student Takes a Deeper Look Into America’s Overweight Society


Photo Credit: Jasmine Bezotte

The typical American meal is a burger and fries with a large soda on the side. The large portions and high health risks is a large concern and is running rampant across the nation. Since 1921, when the first fast food restaurant, “White Castle”, was established in Wichita, Kansas, the fast food industry has worked its way to the top of the food chain. Through convenient drive-thrus, deals and combos and easy access to a meal. America has slowly but rapidly gone from the healthy standards of eating to overconsumption and an overweight society.

Before looking into America’s problem of overconsumption, looking at what healthy and better foods are is the first step to feeding America a better diet. America has consumed processed foods for years. Learning how to grow and appreciate fresh foods is a step America can take to reverse the cycle of unhealthy eating.  

According to the University of Michigan, from 2007 to 2012, pesticide use increased by 10% while herbicide use increased by 20% from 2010 to 2014. In 2012, the U.S. agriculture sector used 899 million pounds of pesticides. In 2000, 25% of corn, 61% of cotton and 54% of soybeans planted were genetically engineered; by 2020, these percentages increased to 92%, 96% and 94%, respectively. These genetically modified crops have raised concern about the transfer of antibiotic resistance, toxicity and allergenicity, according to the National Library of Medicine.

Pesticides are becoming prominent in America’s food. Eating freshly grown food without any added artificial factors has proven to be more effective. Not only is eating it fresh beneficial but choosing to eat fruits and vegetables in general is beneficial. Growing and providing food fresh will promise a healthier society.

A study from Drexel University showed, when healthier food, like vegetables and dairy products, is pricier compared to unhealthy items, like salty snacks and sugary sweets, Americans are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet. On average, healthier perishable foods were nearly twice as expensive as unhealthy packaged foods.

Living a fresher diet can promote a fresher lifestyle all around. Making fresher foods affordable can make all the difference in changing the course of American consumption.

But even if these foods are made more affordable, will Americans still choose healthier or what they are accustomed to? To answer this question America has to do a self-evaluation. 

According to studies, The average American adult consumes 2,100 calories a day, 16% of those calories come from protein. The rest is 36% fat, 47% carbs and 22% added sugars. 90% of the U.S. has a poor diet and 25% do not exercise. 

The majority of our diet has led to Americans leading a sedentary lifestyle. This lifestyle is defined as inactive and non-interest in self-engaging activities. Unhealthy eating has impacted America’s mental health by increasing feelings of laziness, depression and anxiety.

According to the University of Alabama at Birmingham diets high in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates are associated with greater incidences of depression, depressive symptoms and anxiety, impaired with learning and memory. 

Studies reveal America has become highly addicted to processed foods and has caused our dopamine to produce feelings of pleasure and reward and has caused us to crave unhealthy foods rather than a nutrient-filled diet. 

Eating healthy, such as fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds, can help improve your brain’s productivity. As a society, we can choose a wholesome diet that will better engage our minds into the world around us. Eating a wholesome meal is one of the key ways to bring society back to an active lifestyle.

Mental health has been affected by what we consume each day across the country. In what ways has unhealthy food consumption affected our physical health and how can it be changed, the decision depends on the people and the choice to do what is a benefit to their own body.

According to the CDC, consuming unhealthy foods and beverages, such as sugar-sweetened beverages and highly processed foods, can lead to weight gain, obesity and other chronic conditions that can put people at higher risks of at least 13 kinds of cancers. 

The majority of America’s diet is dominantly controlled by things we call “comfort food.” We believe that in order to conquer our craving–in the moment–we must give in to it. But in order to conquer any addiction we have to say ‘no.’ Saying no to what might want in the moment might be the best decision to us being better in the long run. 

When compared to the rest of the world, America has been considered lower-ranked when categorized with food and nutrition. According to a study from Spoon University, compared to the European lifestyle, such as the French, people will spend up to three hours at the table eating lunch while the American lifestyle prefers fast food and big chains that will feed you in minutes.

Another research done by the “Grist Journal,” Americans eat 31% more of packaged food than fresh food, and they consume more packaged food per person than their counterparts in nearly all other countries. 

America has been trapped by a cycle and has been consumed by its indulgence in addictive foods. In order for there to be a better path to health, we must first take the first step.