Be Shocked Once Again

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I’ve had my fair share of Mcdonalds after a heavy night of drinking. Waking up with a stomach full of alcohol and salty fast food is not a good feeling, and I always end up regretting thinking that 20 nuggets would be a good idea at 2am feeling drunk and a little bit merry. Well I felt truly disgusted by my late night snacks after watching BBC 2’s The Men That Made Us Fat this evening. Of course we all know that we are a nation of obesity. Obesity being something that simply didn’t exist twenty, thirty years ago. What I didn’t quite realise, however, was just how huge a part Wall Street and advertising played in making us obese.

That sounds hugely naive, but Wall Street? Making us fat? I just didn’t really ever consider that. The programme on BBC 2 opened my eyes to the way that commerce and burgers are intrinsically linked. In the 90s there was pressure to boost Mcdonalds’ shares and place on the market so they were pushed into introducing the ‘bigger meals’, the huge ‘value’ meal-deals that were launched at the same time as the release of Jurassic Park in 1993. Mcdonalds and Jurassic Park were advertised together, the main thing up for grabs being the ‘Dino meal’ whereby customers could collect the dinosaur themed cups if they purchased huge – ‘dino’ – meals. This really kickstarted the whole supersize phenomenon of America and soon it would come to England. Meal deals were also a great advantage to the fast food chains because if great big meals were offered – drink, chips and burger – at low prices, it would cut down the queue time in the restaurant. And this really does make all the difference – every 15 seconds saved serving customers = 1 percent growth for the business. It makes perfect sense. Mcdonalds grows magnificently at the same rate that our waistbands expand grossly. 

Originally, these unhealthy chains justified their extremely calorific meals by suggesting that people would only have that meal and would be satisfied for the rest of the day. However, as we know, one meal a day – despite it’s size – isn’t enough for people. And the problem isn’t what we’re eating per say…it’s the portion size. In the 50s fast food chains would serve 7ounces worth of soda. Now the biggest they serve is 64ounces. 64ounces. 800 calories. 52 teaspoons of sugar. I couldn’t believe it. And that’s the problem. The portion sizes – made to seem acceptable because fast food chains are selling them at great prices. 

And all because of money – because Wall Street wanted Mcdonalds to boost it’s worth. It seems that money really does make the world go round. And in turn, makes us rounder. 

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