When I was in high school, I usually hang out with my friends. We used to eat in fast food restaurants, like KFC, Dicos, and chat for a long time. Fast food restaurant was our favourite choice to get together. Fast food has become very prevalent in China, since the first fast food restaurant opened in 1984 in Beijing. The first KFC restaurant in China opened in 1987. Since then, it has developed rapidly. Currently, China is the most profitable country of KFC. Chinese people love Pizza Hut as well. Sometimes, there are lots of customers. If you go to Pizza Hut a bit later, there might have no places. The waiting queue could be very long.
Among the customers of fast food restaurant, the majority group is children. There are many reasons. Fast food tastes very well, whatever burger, chips, fried chicken. Another reason is that there is a trend of fast food in China. Children have been significantly influenced. They do not want to be left behind by peers. However, as it is known to all, fast food is quite unhealthy. It could lead to obesity problems. Obesity has become a global health challenge in recent years. The proportion of obese people is continually increasing. The figure of obese children in the world under the age of five has increased to over 42 million in 2013. Obesity will not only bring negative effects to people, but also result in many serious diseases, like diabetes and high blood pressure.
Children are not able to judge whether they should eat fast food. Protecting children from fast food is very necessary. Advertising is a main mean to propagate fast food products. It has been shown that the exposure to fast food advertising could significantly lead to children’s obesity. However, Chinese government has not enacted regulations to limit the advertisements. Fast food corporations have propagated their products successfully in China. Their advertisements can be seen almost everywhere, shops, streets, malls. Besides, TV programs are filled with these unhealthy advertisements. It is inevitable to watch them when young people watch television, especially at prime time.
While in other countries, lots of legislations of controlling fast food have been enacted. If we compare the current circumstance of fast food of these countries and China, we could know the wide disparity.
Norway, Sweden and some countries have banned the advertisements of which target group is children. While in China, as I mentioned before, there is no legislation of fast food. Children are being affected every day, whenever they walk in streets, eat in restaurants, or watch TV programs.
In order to decrease the incidence of children to become overweight, many states have promulgated many specific laws. Some fast food corporations have a sales promotion: some products are sold with a free gift, so that young people are willing to buy it. This strategy has been widely used by KFC and Mc Donald’s. Finland government bans this. In China, this strategy has been used for a long time, especially the children’s set meal of KFC and Mc Donald’s. Gifts in children set meal are often some toys of prevalent cartoon characters, like Conan. These toys really attract a large number of young customers. Some children get used to going to restaurants and buying the set meal. It is the most popular meal among children in China. There is no regulation about this.
Another selling strategy is inviting celebrity to advertise fast food products. This is very useful. Ireland government has regulated that well-known people, including famous athletic people, are not allowed to do this. There is no regulation about this in China. Children can see many celebrities promulgating KFC products. Fast food company is good at following the trend. They invite singers and movie stars. People who are invited are usually quite popular at that time. Young people are very interested in these famous stars, especially teenagers. In this case, they will notice the advertising and tend to eat fast food more.
The lack of laws controlling fast food in China will lead to bad consequences. The obesity problem of young people will become more serious.
Currently, the harmfulness of fast food has already been recognised worldwide. Governments have taken measures from different aspects. WHO and FAO published a warning in 2004, claiming that acrylamide which is contained in chips is one causation of animal’s cancer. The Ministry of Health in China paid attention to this announcement. Experts made risk assessment of acrylamide and drew up the detection method. MH published the warning to remind the public of the damage of acrylamide, However, because there is few relevant law, fast food industry could easily draw people’s attention to their new products.
The profit of fast food industry is mainly contributed by young people. Chinese government should be aware of the urgency of taking actions. Advertising should be regulated above all, like tobacco advertisement. The legislation of tobacco advertising has been strengthened in these two years. In addition, regulations of fast food need to be comprehensive. It should state clearly how to execute the rules and who is responsible for it, to guarantee the effect.
School and parent should also take the responsibility. They should help young people realise that eating fast food is not cool. It would make them become obese. They might suffer lots of serious diseases. As for teenagers, they also concern with whether they are thin or fat. Parents could remind them that it is very difficult to lose weight. I think this might be helpful.