Government Regulation of Fast Food

-By Emily D.-

It’s common knowledge that cigarettes are detrimental to people’s health and have long term consequences. Because of the health risks associated with cigarettes, the government has made it their responsibility to regulate them to help protect the public from some of the negative effects of cigarettes. Cigarettes are now regulated to where one cannot purchase them until the age of 18 and there is an added tax on them, making them a little less convenient to purchase.

Corn-based foods such as fast food and candy are widely known for being poor to one’s health as well, but the government encourages the consumption of fast food instead of trying to protect the public’s health as with cigarettes and alcohol. The government subsidizes, or financially aids and supports the production of corn-based foods, enabling companies to sell fast food cheaply. According to the Environmental Workers Group, in 1995-2006 the government subsidies on corn in the US totaled $56.2 billion. These subsidies have encouraged the widespread use of corn syrup and fructose in many foods ranging from salad dressing to hot dogs. However, most of the unhealthiest foods have the highest concentrations of corn syrup.

Currently Americans spend more on fast food in a year than they do on things like higher education. This has a lot to do with it being much easier to eat out at fast food restaurants than having to deal with cleaning up after cooking meals at home. With the way the economy is right now, and social norms such as both parents working full time and not staying home to take care of their children, it is much easier to buy cheap fast food rather than cooking and having to clean up the mess. Fast food is readily available all over the nation, so it’s very convenient for people to stop by on their way home from work, school, etc. The state government aids the accessibility to fast food restaurants by allowing their common locations to be right off ramps of freeways and highways.

The government’s purpose is to provide safety to the country’s citizens. They already regulate some products for safety purposes (ie: cigarettes, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, etc.), so the government should also regulate fast food and other unhealthy corn-based foods for the public’s safety as well.

Previous research suggests that regulation would improve public health as well as possibly increase tax revenue. Corn-based foods have very negative impacts on people such as causing obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, Type II-Diabetes, constipation, joint pain, to name a few. These are expensive conditions.

Often people do not have enough self restraint to resist the urges of eating unhealthy fast food because it is cheap, quick, and tasty. If the government taxed fast food and other corn-based foods, people would not be as tempted to eat those foods as often if they were more expensive, and it would help reduce some of the negative affects on people caused by eating unhealthy.

Luckily, a recent news report has shown that the government is on its way to regulating fast food. San Francisco already made an ordinance in November 2011 which required fast food restaurants to stop serving toys in kids meals to decrease the temptation for children to want their parents to purchase them fast food. However, the same ordinance was proposed for the whole of California, but was shut down.

Hopefully in the near future, other major cities and states as a whole will adapt the same ordinance as San Francisco to ban toys in kids meals, and the government will step in and tax corn-based foods. Allowing fast food companies to be convenient and cheap to the public, and the public to consume as much corn-based foods as they do currently is not looking out for the safety of the country’s citizens. It is their responsibility to control corn-based foods, because as long as fast food remains cheap, people will not have the self control to eat not eat fast food frequently and in more healthy increments. If the government can change the tobacco industry like it did, it can do the same for fast food.