In addition to these staples, many quick-service restaurants sell an extensive menu of Western, Mexican, Greek, and Chinese foods. Some fast-food outlets offer specialty items, like sushi, clams, or ribs, and others even sell complete "home-cooked" meals over their counters. Though menus and delivery formats vary greatly, fast food's chief common denominators include immediate customer service, packaging "to go," and inexpensive pricing.
However, despite the pervasive reputation of fast food in modern American culture, criticisms proliferate. Since the 1930s, articles and books have censured the industry, purportedly divulging poor sanitary conditions, unhealthy food products, environmental problems and unfair working conditions. Whether it warrants the attention or not, the fast-food industry is still regularly cited for exploiting young workers, polluting, and contributing to obesity and other serious health problems among American consumers.
Specifically, American beef consumption (fast-food hamburger industry) is often blamed for the burning of the Amazon rain forests to make way for more grazing lands for beef cattle. Former enemies of fast food cited the shocking grime of many hamburger stands, in addition to the claims that the ground beef used in sandwiches was either spoiled, diseased, or simply of low quality. In fact, many critics maintained that much of the meat used in fast-food hamburgers came from horse carcasses. Likewise, the high fat content of fast food s also became sensational. Notwithstanding deceptive industry claims about the high quality and the health benefits of their products, in the 1920s and 1930s concerned nutritionists warned the public about the medical dangers of regular burger consumption.
Currently, this skepticism and condemnation of fast food persists, extending even further to include ominous vigilance regarding the industry's use of genetically modified and antibiotic-laden beef products. In many major chains, these attacks have been countered by posting calorie and nutritional charts inside restaurants, advertising and claiming the use of fresh ingredients and presenting alternatives to their fried foods. Despite a few more health-conscious items on the menu, fast-food chains today assertively promote the idea that bigger is better, thus the emergence of such offerings as "super-size" or "biggie" portions of French fries, soft drinks, and milkshakes. Critics point to this marketing emphasis as a reason for an excessive and greatly increasing per-capita caloric intake among fast-food consumers, resulting in fast-growing rates of obesity in the United States and in many parts of the world.
Obesity in Children Obesity is no longer just an American problem. The UK House of Commons Health Committee gave out its finding on obesity foreseeing that obesity would soon surpass smoking as the primary health problem in the United Kingdom (House of Commons Health Committee, 2004). All throughout Europe, obesity has increased by 10%-50% within the past ten years and by as much as 75% in the developing world (IOTF, 2004). Globally, over a billion adults and children are overweight and most experts have projected that today's generation of children are likely to have shorter life expectancies than their parents because of obesity. The World Health Organization's latest global