Research Paper

Here’s a sample research paper originally written in MLA format. A table of contents has been added to make navigation easay. The subject/discipline is nutrition/dietary. Its offers a captivating argument based on the question of whether it is the government, fast-food institutions, or the individual to blame for the proliferation of unhealthy eating habits that have reached crisis proportions in recent years.

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Nutrition: Fast-food institutions? The Government? or, the Individual?


Nutrition: Fast- food institutions? The Government? Or, The Individual?


Introduction. 1

Information failings. 2

Lack of clarity in government policy on fast-food. 3

Failure by government to institute an effective legal framework for addressing the fast-food problem.. 5

Justification for government intervention in citizens’ personal choices and private enterprises. 7

Conclusion. 8

Works Cited. 8


The problem of growing fast-food consumption is quickly getting out of hand (Ebbeling, Pawlak and Ludwig 473). Many people are becoming obese because of consuming these unhealthy foods. Yet the government does not seem to be doing enough to protect consumers. Advertising is predatory, and like in other industries, it is being aggressively used to lure the public into consuming more and more of fast-food at the expense of more healthy foods. It seems like the government has failed in its mandate of protecting consumers from such predatory advertising that leads more and more citizens, especially young people, into consuming junk foods that put their health in jeopardy through conditions such as obesity. The aim of this paper is to show that the government is responsible for preventing the consumption of fast-food and not the individual or the fast-food institutions. It also sets out to show that the government has failed in its role of protecting citizens from the consumption of fast-food, which is increasingly becoming a dominant source of public health concerns.

Information failings

There are many ways in which the government, through lack of political will, has failed to protect the public from aggressive, often misleading adverts that trick people into adopting the fast-food culture (Kersh and Morone148). One of them is information failings. Although many people are well endowed in terms of information processing capability, they lack access to the kind of information that they desperately need to make informed choices. In other cases, people happen to be unwilling or cognitively unable to process the available information. This is the point at which advertisers come in and purport to offer help in the decision-making process only to end up misleading them. Some of the issues on which the public is ill-informed include nutritional needs, nutritional characteristics of specific food products, and the health implications and costs associated with certain eating behaviors.

A case in point is that many people are not worried about their intake of saturated fat as well as their obese condition. In most cases, these people believe that intake of saturated fat cannot contribute to being overweight. This is a misconception; the true position is that consumption of foods with saturated fat such as fast-food can greatly contribute to the condition of being overweight and even obese. Such misconceptions only lend credence to the notion that the government has failed miserably in its role of creating public awareness regarding the overreliance on fast-food for one’s dietary needs.

Some of the information that fast-food companies provide through advertising contradicts government advice yet authorities are always reluctant to do anything about the situation. This is unfortunate considering that the need to intervene in such situations should be obvious particularly in light of the understanding that the incentives of these profit-making firms are in many instances not aligned with the interests of consumers. Moreover, in a phenomenon where consumers lack adequate information or are cognitively constrained, the tendency to perpetuate behavioral biases becomes an endemic problem. Under such circumstances, it may be unfair to blame those consumers. It may be equally wrong to blame the fast-food companies since they are in business to maximize profits for their shareholders as opposed to taking care of people’s health needs.

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There are many nuances that companies exploit to manipulate the official government position regarding the consumption of unhealthy foods in order to retain and enhance the prevailing sales trends. For example, a fast-food firm may choose to put too much emphasis on one positive characteristic of junk food to the extent of grossly overshadowing numerous serious disadvantages of this type of food. For example, there is a tendency for sellers of junk foods to emphasize the convenience that is afforded by the quick, take-away service that they offer. However, they fail to highlight the many negative health consequences that by far outweigh the “convenience” that consumers get by making the wrong food choices most or all the time. In another example, fast-food companies intentionally obfuscate crucial information to mislead consumers. It is the responsibility of the government to intervene by compelling these companies to give accurate information regarding issues such as nutritional composition and health effects of the food products they are selling. It is not enough for the government to create awareness about health food choices; it must also compel sellers of all types of foods to play their part in creating this awareness to avoid confusion among consumers.

Lack of clarity in government policy on fast-food

            In addition to information failings, there is a lack of clarity in government policy regarding fast-food. It is true that consumption of fast-food imposes costs on consumers through increased risk of chronic conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Yet the government is yet to take any measures that can give individuals an incentive to take all these costs into consideration when deciding to purchase a fast-food product such as fries and crisps. Some of the considerations that may discourage people from buying fast-food products include growing costs of healthcare and insurance, increased hospital admissions that are positively correlated to the recent increase in fast-food consumption, and reduced economic output and lower productivity due to nutrition-related sickness. It may also be necessary for the government to point out that the situation is getting out of hand because of the incremental costs of providing obesity treatment. For some reason, the policy position of the government on these critical issues remains unknown at worst and poorly articulated at best.

The responsibility of the government to formulate policy on this issue is not in doubt. This is for the simple reason that consumers might not always be forward-looked in terms of their long-term health needs and it would be wrong to blame them for that. An even more compelling rationale for the government’s policymaking role as far as this problem is concerned is the case of children’s health needs. Virtually all fast-food companies tend to focus primarily on children, adolescents, and young adults due to their vulnerability as far as proper choice of food products is concerned. The managers of these companies know that as people become older, they become increasingly conscious of their food choices due to the onset of health conditions as well as overall life experiences.

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There are many policy options that the government is yet to utilize effectively in order to deal a death knell for the fast-food menace that continues to destroy the lives of millions of people. One of them is the creation of awareness directly through government advertising, schools, and labeling. Another way to help consumers make the right diet decisions is to provide public education that can facilitate information processing. Similarly, policies aimed at altering the existing incentives should be introduced. Unfortunately, none of these policy options has been optimally utilized by the government. In essence, the government is seemingly unwilling to initiate aggressive fiscal measures and regulatory constraints aimed at promoting healthy eating behaviors among children and adults alike (Shill and Mavoa 163).

Due to these glaring policy constraints, the country is in a position where clarity is needed regarding the kind of policy intervention that can lead to long-term improvement in people’s eating behaviors. Presently, it is unclear whether the current government policy is geared towards increasingly social welfare in its entirety or merely reducing unhealthy dietary preferences and behaviors. Moreover, an evaluation of government policy does not give a clear indication of the exact market failures that are being addressed. The reasons for this confusion in matters policy are manifold. In some cases, the government has simply not stipulated its policy properly. In other situations, the policies have been spelt out but are simply not being implemented. It also seems that there are some scenarios where existing policies and programs are being implemented only in their limited form. This phenomenon is complicated by the concurrent efforts of fast-food companies to adapt to the unfolding policy environment by adopting marketing tactics aimed at luring consumers into retaining their fast-food past consumption levels such as changing prices, introducing some changes in the way fast-food products are advertised, and overhauling the product offering.

Failure by government to institute an effective legal framework for addressing the fast-food problem

The government has failed miserably in its attempts to establish a legal framework through which effective public policy on the sale and consumption of fast-food products can be developed. Yet law is a crucial tool for promoting public health practice (Gostin et al. 28). It is within the power of government to use this tool to prevent chronic diseases that arise due to the consumption of fast-food. It is unclear why the government fails to use the numerous legal resources available to it at local, state, and federal levels to fight the menace. Moreover, there are numerous laws as well as legal authorities whose applicability to this issue can be invoked in order to establish the levels of competencies and coordination that the government requires to deal with the problem in an effective manner.

It should not be difficult for the government to make use of existing laws and regulations that provide detailed descriptions of various types of food and their impact on human health. The only major challenge in this regard is for the government to determine what food should be considered healthful and which one should be considered unhealthful (Kline et al. 608). Indeed, the task of establishing a legally plausible policy may be a less complex undertaking than determining which side of a regulatory constraint a specific food type should fall. Nevertheless, the government can still be able to mobilize the resources at its disposal to ensure that laws and regulations are enforced in an effective manner. For example, it may need to seek counsel from scientific experts and nutrition professionals in determine the foods that should be banned, the ones whose advertising should be restricted, and those whose packaging should contain messages that warn consumers about the health dangers of eating them. According to Kline et al., the government should be seen to be drawing a rational line, even if this line is not necessarily the best one, interventions into consumers’ personal choices notwithstanding (608). Unfortunately, the government is yet to demonstrate its willingness to take such drastic legal measures against fast-food companies.

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Some of the other ways in which the government can use its legal regime to control the consumption of fast-food include imposing age restrictions on the sale of certain types of junk foods, imposing higher taxes on fast-food products, imposing product standards, and drawing up public binding contracts. In numerous situations, governments justify their failure to introduce these measures by citing possible attempts by courts to challenge the constitutionality of those measures. Another viable regulatory measure involves imposing regulations on the areas where fast-food companies can set up operations with a view to ensure that vulnerable demographic groups such as school children and college-going adolescents are not needlessly exposed to the fast-food culture (Davis and Carpenter 505).

Justification for government intervention in citizens’ personal choices and private enterprises

The government is justified for intervening in citizens’ personal choices as well as the operations of private enterprises for several reasons. To begin with, there is a need for next-generation efforts to target the main causes of obesity such as fast-food to begin at the community level with a view to encourage families, schools, the private sector among other stakeholders to initiate environmental changes that can lead to the shifting of norms towards the embracement of healthy everyday eating behaviors (Huang et al. 5). It is only the government that can be able to mobilize adequate resources and incentives to bring all these stakeholders together with the objective of forging a common front in the fight against fast-food.

Government intervention is also justified by the understanding that there are fundamental failings in the market that have led millions of consumers to make suboptimal decisions regarding what they eat (Griffith and O’Connell 484). Consequently, many people continue to suffer from obesity due to the consumption of fast-food products. Thus, the government should not be seen to be intervening in order to tell people what to eat and when to eat it but rather to warn them about market failings that predispose them to inappropriate choices as consumers.


Based on this discussion, it is evident that fast-food products have become a menace to the modern society. Government should intervene in order to protect the health wellbeing of millions of citizens who have been misled by advertisers to buy unhealthy foods in the name of convenience and sweetness. To achieve this objective, the government should make use of the legal regime that is already at its disposal. Information failings and lack of clarity in public policy on fast-food consumption are the two fundamental weaknesses on the part of the government. Self-regulation cannot work because fast-food companies are in business to maximize sales and profits. On the other hand, individual may not always make the right food choices because they are always being misled by advertisers. In it is only the government that can provide direction through policymaking, regulation, and control mechanisms as far as the fight against fast-food products is concerned.

Works Cited

Griffith, Rachel and O’Connell, Martin. “Public Policy towards Food Consumption.” Fiscal Studies, 31.4 (2010): 481–507.

Kersh, Rogan and Morone, James. “The Politics Of Obesity: Seven Steps To Government Action.” Health Affairs, 21.6 (2002): 142-153.

Kline, Randolph., Graff, Samantha., Zellers, Leslie and Ashe, Marcie. “Beyond Advertising Controls: Influencing Junk-Food Marketing and Consumption with Policy Innovations Developed in Tobacco Control.” Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, 39 (2006): 603-646.

Gostin, Lawrence., Pomeranz, Jennifer., Jacobson, Peter and Gottfried, Richard. “Assessing Laws and Legal Authorities for Obesity Prevention and Control.” Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 37 (2009): 28-36.

Huang, Terry., Drewnowski, Adam., Kumanyika, Shiriki  and Glass, Thomas. “A Systems-Oriented Multilevel Framework for Addressing Obesity in the 21st Century.” Preventing Chronic Disease, 6.3 (2009): 1-10.

Shill,  James and Mavoa, Henry. “Government regulation to promote healthy food environments – a view from inside state governments.” Obesity Reviews, 13 (2012): 162–173.

Ebbeling, Cara., Pawlak, Dorota and Ludwig, David. “Childhood obesity: public-health crisis, common sense cure.” Lancet, 360 (2002): 473–482.

Davis, Brennan and Carpenter, Christopher. “Proximity of Fast-Food Restaurants to Schools and Adolescent Obesity.” American Journal of Public Health, 99.3 (2009): 505-510.

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