The war on tobacco continues till today ever since the link between tobacco and lung cancer was established in 1952. Governments around the world have taken various measures of tobacco control such as taxing, ban cigarette advertising, plain packaging, education etc. The prevalence of daily smokers decrease steadily over the years in most countries, except Russia. The graph below is made from data in OECD factbook 2013 on Google public data.
What about fast food? It has been proven to be unhealthy, causes obesity, increases risk of diabetes and heart disease. The consequences are much more severe than tobacco. Why fast food is not banned? Fast food outlets are standing up at almost every street corner and in every shopping malls all over the world. Fast food advertisements are on TV, at bus stop, in the subway, and anywhere else we lay eye on. Hundreds of fast food ads are bombing the children in the US.
McDonald’s is promoting happy meals to children and dollar meals to the poor without any restriction.
Why is it so? How come the government is not taking any action to control fast food, like what they did for tobacco? What is the dark truth behind it?
Most people who are against fast food ban cited reasons such as free will, freedom of choice, cheap (thus can feed the poor), fast, taste good. These reasons sound so lame, much like a child cry for a toy. They must be against tobacco control as well for the same reasons. They may not be the ones who get sick due to fast food, since they are healthy enough to surf the internet and shout out their opinions.They are not aware that their choice is affecting other people’s choice, especially children who are too young to make rational choices and poor people who do not have many choices. Because of their preference to fast food, fast food is colonizing the world. Children are used to fast food because it is surrounding the school and their house. Poor people are addicted to fast food because it is cheap and everywhere. Fast food may not make you sick but your choice can indirectly make other people sick.
I can’t find out the real reason why fast food is not banned. I have listed below some might-be reasons:
- Solid research is needed. The current evidences are not strong enough to push the government to impose the ban on fast food. Unbiased, high quality research studies are needed to further confirm the harms of fast food on health. The studies would be difficult to carry out or get published due to the pressure from fast food industry.
- Tax revenue from fast food. As such a fast-growing industry, fast food outlets are generating huge tax revenue for the government. The government may be reluctant to close down a prosperous revenue-generating business even though it has negative impact on people’s health. Chemical factories are not banned though they causes air and water pollution that harms people’s health. Same goes for fast food.
- Strong lobbying by fast food. Fast food chains are powerful international corporations that can have a say on government policy. Their lobbyists are penetrating into the circle of decision makers and affecting national policies such as dietary guidelines and health programs. A bill that suggests fast food ban will be immediately rejected by their supporters.
What we can do as consumers is not contributing to their business. And tell our friends and family to stay away from fast food too. If everybody does so, the problem is solved.
Do not buy fast food. It kills.