Is Fast Food The Main Cause Of Obesity?

By West Africa Cooks, 6 November, 2019

Fast food shops are everywhere in the less affluent areas of the United Kingdom's towns and cities targeting young adults. Therefore people are asking the quesion is fast food the main cause of obesity?

The main theme of this article looks at these areas:

  1. Socioeconomic status
  2. Business money to be made
  3. Modern culture

You can be classified as obese if you have a high body weight compared to your height i.e. body mass index (BMI) in the red zone which is over 30 kg/m. You have a tendency to overeat most or all the time. You suffer from alignments due to being overweight which are shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes plus including psychological problems, such as depression and low self-esteem. The NHS gives us information about the causes and it sights poor diet over a long period of time as a reason for obesity. So what are the reasons for long term bad choices in a persons diet. Can we identify reasons which force, cohest or persuade a person to eat low quality food again and again and again..

Read Writing, Publishing And African Cook Books

1. Socioeconomic Status

Firstly let us look at the socioeconomic status of citizens who are on poor diets, through the choice of eating fast foods, as an underling reason for obesity.

Educational attainment in areas where you have a higher than average number of fast food shop is lower than average. Occupations of the citizens in these areas tend to be manual, low skilled jobs or places of higher than average unemployment and not high tech, high skilled jobs paying well above average in terms of income. The regions where you will find lower than average number of fast food shops by contrast are places of higher wealth.These establishments are not concentrated in these areas, but in areas of deprivation. Figures obtained from Public Health England bear this out. There is an association between exposure to fast food outlets and obesity. There health surveys show that the prevalence of child overweight and obesity rises with deprivation whilst fruit and vegetable consumption falls.

Education is a major factor. Do educated citizens choose to not live in areas where fast food shops run their business or is it that they know that these foods are not good for you and therefore they eat these food at a more measured. What about the education in cooking for yourself, your friends and family. The west African tradition is that the skills of cooking were passed down from mother to daughter furthermore it could be that due to the lost of the traditional family. Families and more commonly single parents. Are these reason why children frequent fast food shop.

So this leads us on to point 2 how business plays a role in keeping the public eating fast food.

Read Dr Pamela Greene, Scientist, Nutritionist, Home Economist. A life time of work Dr Pamela Greene Favourite Sierra Leone Recipes

2. Business Money To Be Made

Powerful marketing has been used over the years with huge spend driving the business objectives which are selling more food at the fastest pace possible. The marketing and advertising of fast food has been fine tuned over many decades, with jiggles, big logos and fancy offers. Tens of thousands of people have dedicated their lives to make money for their fast food businesses and they are brilliant at it. They are going to ram it down your face.

The marketing of fast food. How is it done?

The product is kept simple

The idea is a standard meal mass produced to maximise sales an example is chicken burger, fries and a drink. It is low or poor quality food. Lot of sugar, calories high or above average, high in fat, low in fibre. Colours are used to enhance the look of the meal. It is sold as a bundle a sugar based drink which is fizzy or sweetened milkshakes or hot chocolate drink.

Big massive super powerful global players with distribution channel on a huge scale are involved in fast food sales for example Coca Cola are heavily involved in the business. They use sport and sponsorship to legitimise this way of selling their products.

The government has acknowledged that the selling of low quality food is paid in citizens poor health, which puts the NHS under more pressure due to obesity. So to counter act this they have introduced a sugar tax from Public Health England *(PHE), which is monitoring the industry and attempting to regulate the food industry. Money as income goes to action on sugar and tackling childhood obesity.

Pricing up fast food

It is in the industries best interest to keep the food as cheap as possible and persuade the consumers to buy more often. You always see the shops using price points just below the whole £ mark. For example just under the pound are the psychological points of .99 e.g £2.99 or £6.99. Shop want to make it very easy to buy. You can use a credit card, cardless tap pay, in store apps on big screens and mobile apps.

They work hard at speed in getting your cash. high turnover in the objective at the till with up selling.

Loyalty cards are used by the large fast food shops to bring customers back. Repeat business is the name of the game. Once you have a loyalty card the shop has customer data and feedback. Customer analysis is pored over to see how they can improve sales and reactive to competitors changing their price. If a new product is launched there is information on how it is selling. This all happens in real time with stock data information so that bulk pricing can be negotiated with a suppler for maximum project.

Promoting fast food

Time is a factor the fast food shop make a priority. They know that after school 3.00 to 4.30pm are they highest sales. They need to be open and have staff ready. It too is an important time to advertiser and promoter fast food in all the channels which the consumer uses. Special offers for lunch of after school can be seen. Advertising uses lots of big images, slim people eating fast food, these people are looking healthy and happy. In truth they are paid zombies pushing the fast food drug. You will never see a big fat child from an African background eating the food in adverts even though they are the main target of these businesses.

Simple language is used, magic words are used like free, offer, deal, big, just. Dumb down the communication and getting to the point such as children's parties held here. You will find all the language techniques used for instance the use of slogans like For your chick fix.

Location of fast food shops

The chicken shop is not near the school of college it is located on the way to the bus stop or a route a child would use to get home for example near the railway station. Corner shops are the place for the big chains of fast food shops and they are there for the high footfall which is a must for anyone selling food. The fast food shop is at the main railway station, airport and shopping mall drive through. This is about convenience too.

There are lots of local independent fast food shops on a route from the bus stop to the school or college waiting for trade as stated before. They are chicken shops; burger bars; chip shops and kebab shops in the high street of every town in the UK, furthermore they are in high concentration in the community of areas of deprivation.

Councils need money so regulations are based on short term policy cycles as there are lower sources of income generated from outside a borough compared to more affluent boroughs and counties.

Finally this leads us on to point 3 from a treat to eating fast food every week and it being considered normal in today's culture. This is the final act in enslaving a population to low quality processed food.

Read Who Are Our African Foodie Superheroes?

3. Modern Culture And Food

Make your food part of modern culture. Pizza nights in front of the TV as an example. But let us ask the question "Why target children and young adults"? The target is children, young growing up adults with a hunger after school. This becomes a habit at an early age, while peer pressure is used to influence and create a dependency and a lack of cooking skills enhances this. If a business can achieve a high level of influence on a child at an early age a revenue stream can be created for a long time as the child grows up into adulthood.

Fast food is cool

Fast food has been made into an event as well normalised for example it is sold as birthday parties food in store as a treat for good behaviour or mass take away for home delivery; it is present at technology meetups as standard. How did this happen? Constant campaigns. The fast food industry has done a brilliant job over the years in seeping into our life's, however not every body in every region eats fast food. Some people love to cook for themselves they are living a different lifestyle in which a home cooked meal means more.

Fast Food Versus A Cooking For Yourself Culture

Here we compare and contrast the difference between two cultures.

Fast Food Culture Cooking For Yourself
Food source unknown, out sourced Wanting to know what is in your food, in house
Waste Valued, wasteless
Quantity over quality Quality over quantity
Big portions Small meals
Dependence Artist, creative, innovation
Simple options, static Varied complex recipes, risk and change
Lack of choice Endless combinations
Fuel for now An experience in flavour, smell and colour
Box set in front of laptop Dinning parties, with family and friends
Dependency, addiction Independent

Read Is £35 ($40) For An African Dinner Value For Money And Worth Paying For?

Government Tackling Knife Crime

Is it wise to use the chicken box to get the message across to children about the harm of knife crime? Marketing money has been paid by the tax payer to design and launch this campaign. It can be argued that the bigger killer is the chicken box.

Cooking For Yourself

Through food and drink tell the African story and document the best diet in the world. Let us start African children's supperclubs were we teach children how to cook and bake healthy African food. We need to create chefs and give young people something to do of value, create wealth generation in the Pan-African community, we need to tackle diseases like diabetes and hypertension and other conditions like mental illness.

Finally we need to fast from fizzy drinks, ready meals and processed fast food. Let us reduce the physical illnesses caused by obesity. Let us take control of our foods and cook for ourselves.


In summary I believe fast food is one of the main causes of obesity as data points this out. It is of course not the only reason but one of the main ones alongside the following:

  • Lack of physical exercise
  • *Quality and variety of food eaten
  • Medication
  • Genetics

Good luck
West Africa Cooks

Speaking, listening and communication assessments Level 1 and 2
Topics for informal discussions familiar topics

If you wish to use this article for your City and Guilds informal discussions familiar topics please do so. Cut and paste.
For use as a presentation use the following:

  1. Title: Is Fast Food The Main Cause Of Obesity?
  2. Content:
  3. Socioeconomic status
  4. Educational attainment
  5. Business money to be made
  6. The marketing of fast food
  7. Modern culture
  8. Fast food is cool
  9. Summary. Fast food one of the main reasons for obesity
  10. References

*See PHE Regulating the growth of fast food outlets.
**Studies point to the health of the gut playing apart in health outcomes visit


Search For African Grocery Online. Click Buy Now OR Search