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The Pervasive Impacts of the Fast Food Industry

What is the Fast Food Industry?

You have most likely heard the phrase “fast food” before, probably in affiliation to franchises such as McDonalds, Burger King, or Dunkin' Donuts. The style of restaurant now referred to as “fast food” was originally designed to target clientele who needed fast, easy, and relatively inexpensive access to food. These customers often included people struggling financially, those with short lunch breaks, or families who could not cook at home. Characterized by the ability to serve orders through a drive-by window, fast food restaurants developed to serve pre-made food products to customers within a matter of minutes— a popular form of food service that continues to this day.

How Does Fast Food Impact American life?

Many fast food businesses allow their employees to access on-the-job training, extending opportunities to become a server or cook to anyone, regardless of their educational backgrounds. As of now, there are over 36,834 fast food employees in the United States, and globally, the industry generates an average of 570 billion dollars annually. However, on average, fast food workers are paid a median annual salary of 21,250, which makes it one of the lowest paying industries in regards to labor per hour.

Furthermore, fast food industries rely on high quantities of low-quality animal products, leading to unsanitary slaughterhouses and harming those who consume fast food on a regular basis. According to The Washington Post, “nearly half of American adults eat fast food at least once per week”, which can lead to​​ a higher risk of health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

These findings are particularly worrisome when combined with the fact that the placement of

fast food restaurants exacerbates modern-day racial and income inequalities. When studying trends in food store availability, it was found that low-income ZIP codes have 25 percent fewer chain supermarkets than middle-income ZIP codes. Moreover, predominantly African-American and Latino ZIP codes often have fewer supermarkets than majority-White areas. In places with fewer supermarkets, fast food chains become more popular as food retailers, resulting in growing health disparities between higher- and lower-income areas.

What Can You Do?

Fast food customers must consider the adverse effects of the food they purchase. Although the fast food industry allows for an inexpensive method of food consumption, fast food franchises often serve meals that lead to higher risks of serious health conditions. In order to make healthier food attainable for all, customers must work to force fast food businesses to serve higher-quality alternatives. For the health and wellness of consumers across the nation, it is time for Americans to boycott, protest, and generate change in the fast food industry.


Fast Food Worker Demographics and Statistics [2021 ...

“Fast Food.” Food Empowerment Project,

“Industry Market Research, Reports, and Statistics.” IBISWorld,,increase%20of%201.1%25%20from%202020.,,school%20or%20passed%20their%20GED.

Staff, NCL. “Fast Food Workers and the International Double Standard - National Consumers League.” National Consumers League, NCL Staff

Franchise Resource Center. “Fast Food Industry Analysis 2020 - Cost & Trends.” Franchise Resource Center,

About the Author:

Harper Lindsay is a rising sophomore student. She was elected as vice president of her sophomore class and has a passion for Model UN and cross country. Harper is the founder of Food For Fidos, a nonprofit organization which contributes to the amount of dog food in Boston food banks to support people caring for their pets throughout difficult times.

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