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Fast Food - Essay Example

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More significantly, many American public health experts and policymakers have latched onto these rather narrow cross-sectional and time-series correlations in order to promote policies to discourage eating out at fast food restaurants, to demand that fast food restaurants alter or eliminate food inputs such as trans fats in New York City, and have even demanded special zoning regulations to protect vulnerable populations from the fast food predators. In order to determine the validity of the ostensibly well-established causal relationship, and by implication the theoretical legitimacy of the laws and regulations subsequently advocated and implemented, the authors tested the well-established correlation by reversing the research question; more specifically, the new question became whether "more restaurants cause obesity, or do preferences for greater food consumption lead to an increase in restaurant density" (Anderson & Mata, 2007: 1). In short, is the core source of obesity caused by predatory fast food businesses or, rather, by individual or demographic preferences
The authors created a research model that manipulated the costs of eating at a fast food outlet (through an availability model where different costs were associated with travel distances) and then examined the effect on the body mass of an American consumer. In this way, the research design sought an alternative explanation for obesity, that individual preferences attracted fast food outlets rather than fast food outlets preying on irrational consumers, and the findings tended rather strongly to
confirm the authors' skepticism regarding conventional wisdom. The data obtained suggested that "the causal link between the availability of...
As a preliminary matter, the authors conceded that “Well-established cross-sectional and time-series correlations between average body weight and eating out have convinced many researchers and policymakers that restaurants are a leading cause of obesity in the United States” (Anderson & Mata, 2007: 1). This simplistic analysis thus holds that the more an American eats out at fast food restaurants the more obese an American tends to become. More significantly, many American public health experts and policymakers have latched onto these rather narrow cross-sectional and time-series correlations in order to promote policies to discourage eating out at fast food restaurants, to demand that fast food restaurants alter or eliminate food inputs such as trans fats in New York City, and have even demanded special zoning regulations to protect vulnerable populations from the fast food predators. In order to determine the validity of the ostensibly well-established causal relationship, and by implication the theoretical legitimacy of the laws and regulations subsequently advocated and implemented, the authors tested the well-established correlation by reversing the research question; more specifically, the new question became whether “more restaurants cause obesity, or do preferences for greater food consumption lead to an increase in restaurant density?” (Anderson & Mata, 2007: 1). In short, is the core source of obesity caused by predatory fast food businesses or, rather, by individual or demographic preferences? The authors created a research model that manipulated the costs of eating at a fast food outlet (through an availability model where different costs were associated with travel distances) and then examined the effect on the body mass of an American consumer. In this way, the research design sought an alternative explanation for obesity, that individual preferences attracted fast food outlets rather than fast food outlets preying on irrational consumers, and the findings tended rather strongly to
confirm the authors’ skepticism regarding conventional wisdom. The data obtained suggested that “the causal link between the availability of restaurant foods and obesity
is minimal at best. Manipulating the distance to the nearest restaurant using Interstate Highway proximity as an instrument demonstrates that restaurants have no significant effect on BMI or overweight status” (Anderson & Matsa, 2007: 24). ...Show more
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Summary

In the paper “Fast Food Essay” the author analyzes some of the research in the field of fast food businesses. The popular media and opportunistic politicians often argue for a causal link between fast food and obesity whereas the available studies find a minimal causal relationship at the most. …
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