The Regulation of Fast Food in America                Through the Political LensIntroduction    Fast food companies have become a widespread sensation throughout the United States, consequently leading to many health in people within the United States. The first fast food restaurant didn’t spring from McDonalds as many people have thought, but instead sprung up from White Castle in 1921 (Aronica, 2014). From there on, many fast food chains such as McDonalds, Wendy’s, and other fast food chains came about, opening up chains all over America. Fast food is defined as food “designed for ready availability, use, or consumption and with little consideration given to quality or significance” by the Merriam Webster Online  (1951). Fast food gives rise to many health risks such as obesity, diabetes, etc. Risks with different food items, food preparation, and the cooking of food led to regulations being put in place by the Food and Drug Administration along with the U.S Department of Agriculture. They both take it upon themselves to ensure the safety of the American people by regulating substances that are consumed. With the growing scientific evidence that proves the negative impacts of fast food, the FDA and USDA are faced with the problem of whether or not regulation is a necessary action. From the importance of regulations to the role of lobbyists, regulation is important when it comes to ensuring the health of Americans.    Government Responsibility In Obesity. Obesity is an issue that swept America since the late 20th century. According to Harcombe (2009), who has a PhD in public health nutrition, the obesity epidemic began growing starting from the late 70s to the early 80s in America. The growing trend in obesity caused many Americans to be worried about the fate of future generations. This issue reached to the government, few believing the government should have some responsibility in decreasing sugary drinks because of its correlation to obesity as said by Goldstein and Ritterman (2014), an executive director of public health advocates. According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, “if governments took firmer action, they could start to prevent people from becoming overweight and obese…” (as cited in Reuters, 2014). The prevention of obesity depends on government action, which coincides with the issue of fast food. Regulations by the government would decrease the growing epidemic of fast food. To add to that, the FDA has the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which makes “authorities to protect consumers and promote public health” ( as cited in FDA). Since obesity has such a large negative impact on the American public, the FDA needs to take responsibility in the best interest of the protection of public health to regulate fast food because of its relation to obesity.         Importance of Government Regulations. Regulations are an important part of limiting harmful substances such as alcohol, drugs. Regulations are a vital part of ensuring the safety of many people across America. For example, making people aware of the repercussions of the use of cigarettes didn’t stop many people from use, but regulations on them did (as cited in Nestle, 2012). Without regulations, people still went about smoking cigarettes because there aren’t any bans or restrictions. If this applied to fast food, a decrease in the consumption of fast food would take place. The argument against government regulation of the food industry includes the idea of ‘self-regulation’ in these companies. The use of self-regulations excludes government regulations by arguing that the company can personally regulate issues themselves. However, it is found that self-regulation is used as a mean to buy more time before the government gets involved and protect their own business by meeting a small amount of standards placed by the government (as cited in Sharma, Teret, Brownwell, 2010). Self-regulation is a ploy used to limit regulations the government puts on the company to carry on with their business. As a result, the government has to place regulations in order to make actual change in negative business practices and health issues in the fast food industry. An example is the government passing dietary guidelines that get updated every five years that heads advice on what to eat and what not to eat ( as cited in Zhang, Liu, Liu, Xue, Wang, 2014). Dietary guidelines are useful to people that want to eat healthier or at least try. According to Nestle (2012), regulations make it easier for people to eat healthier without having to think about what could be in their food. Regulations sets a standard for what is deemed to be healthy to consume, allowing people to be free of worries regarding what they eat. Seeing that government regulations are effective in aiding Americans with healthier diet, they should use their effectiveness in regulating other substances with fast food.    Lobbying vs. Science. Lobbyists, specifically fast food lobbyists, are people from from fast food companies that try to influence decisions in the government when it comes to the regulation of fast food. Fast food lobbyists are a problem. Nestle’s (2013) book states the following:…the industry also devotes enormous financial and other sources to lobbying Congress and federal agencies, forming partnerships and alliances with professional nutrition organizations, funding research on food and nutrition, publicizing the results of selected research studies favorable to industry, sponsoring professional journals and conferences, and making sure that influential groups… are aware of the benefits of their products. (p. 4)                                      Fast food lobbyists hold a lot of power in the government. The food lobbyists contribute money, influencing the government to regulate on the account of industries instead of the wellbeing of the public. They only use evidence that works to their advantage to trick people into thinking that their products are healthy and aren’t harmful, using the act of deceit to convince others. To add to that, an article by Heid (2016) states, “…the final guidelines are evidence that the USDA and HHS (Health and Human Services) do not rely on scientific evidence to form their nutrition policies.” This article touches upon how the government is influenced more by lobbying than science, showing how they succumb under the pressures of the food industry instead of utilizing scientific facts. As a result, dietary guidelines are lacking real scientific evidence that would benefit the general public. In turn, the government shields the truth from the public, which would consequently lead to health problems.                     ConclusionConclusively, the evidence presented contributes to the idea that fast food should be regulated by the government. A solution to the fast food problem would be decreasing the power of the food industry within the government. This would decrease the pressure the government has to face from these companies, which would lead to them implementing more scientific evidence instead. However, limiting lobbyist power is no easy task. It is hard to prevent the government, who is in need of money, to refuse money being offered to them in exchange of leniency. As a result, stronger regulations would be difficult to implement, but the solution to the obesity problem may someday come.                                        Word Count: 1,169References Aronica, M. (2014) Where Your Favorite Fast-Food Chains Began. Retrieved January 6, 2018, from, K. (2011). Worldwide Obesity Doubled Over Past Three Decades. Retrieved January 7, 2018, from Food Def. 2 (n.d) Merriam-Webster Online. In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved January 7, 2018, from Safety Modernization Act, 21 U.S.C. 301 et seq (2011)Goldstein, H., Ritterman, J. Government Has a Pivotal Role to Play in War on Obesity. Retrieved January 4, 2018, from, Z. (2009) The Obesity Epidemic: Introduction. Retrieved January 8, 2018, from, M. (2016) Experts Say Lobbying Skewed the U.S Dietary Guidelines. Retrieved January 6, 2018, from, M. (2012) How Regulation Really Does Change Eating Behavior. Retrieved January 8, 2018 from, M. (2002) Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. Los Angeles, California: University of California PressReuters. (2014) WHO: Governments should regulate fast food to slow obesity epidemic. Retrieved January 5, 2018 from, L. L., MBA, MPH, Teret, S.P., JD, MPH, Brownwell, K.D., PhD. (2010) The Food Industry and Self-Regulation: Standards to Promote Success and to Avoid Public Health Failures. Retrieved January 6, 2018 from, Q., Liu, S., Liu, R., Xue, H., Wang, Y. (2014) Food Policy Approaches to Obesity Prevention: An International Perspective. Retrieved January 5, 2018 from