Food and Economic Issues

free essayIn the US, food has always been and will always be a great compromise for most foreigners living in America. It will always depend on you in terms of consuming either only chips with burgers or Greek salad with cranberry juice. It is a fact that fast food restaurants do not aim at selling healthy food. Instead, they aim at selling tasty food that will make the customer addicted to unbelievably delicious sandwich, hot-dog, or hamburger. Nevertheless, the streets are full of fast-food cafes, and one can doubtedly find the place to buy healthy organic salads, fruits, vegetables, and meat. However, the customer may encounter different problem when so-called organic and normal food is made of abnormal products. If one takes a piece of fresh beef in a store in New York and in a shop in Barnaul, the Barnaul piece will definitely be much tastier, while the American will, most likely, have the taste of rubber tires. Unfortunately, it is not always the matter with the price of the product (“organic” are considerably more expensive) since both organic and non-organic products can be made of the same ingredients. Even if a person finds absolutely healthy foods, he/she will hardly afford it because of its enormous price.

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The quality of the product does not depend on the rank of the restaurant. Some people believe that if they go to a famous and expensive restaurant there, they will eat normal food made of high-quality products. However, every restaurant owner is trying to save money by buying the cheapest products no matter what kind of restaurant it is. The exception is when the products of which the meals are prepared in the restaurant are not manufactured in the US but are brought from abroad. American food is different including healthy and tasty; but if one wants to eat clean, his/her food costs will rise sharply in a number of times compared to the cost of the same food of lower quality.

Food Issue

The scientists of Trust for America’s Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation came to a conclusion that a half of the adult population in the United States will be suffering from obesity by 2030 if the current tendency continues. This year, approximately 13 states, according to statistics, had a rate of obesity among the population of 60%, in 39 states it was slightly above 50%. In total, in 50 US states the obesity rate has reached 44%.

The study also reported that total medical costs directed to obesity and adverse effects in the US can grow from 48 billion dollars to 66 billion dollars in a year. A slowdown caused by the decrease of performance productivity in the economy as a whole could increase from $390 billion annually up to $580 billion by 2030.

The professor of the Duke University of the USA, Eric Finkelstein, came to the same conclusion. In his view, if the US continues an unhealthy trend of the increasing number of people being overweight, around 42% of all American citizens will suffer from overeating by 2030. The scientist estimated that the number of people suffering from obesity in the United States is growing with unimaginable speed and can soon become a real scourge for the US’s economy. Considering all the possible costs of both the government and the citizens, medical costs for treatment of obesity in the next 20 years could reach the amount of $550 billion. In comparison, the President Barack Obama asked a slightly lower amount of money from Congress to create one million jobs (but was refused).

It should also be said that the data of both Finkelstein and the researchers from Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are distinguished by restraint in comparison with similar studies of other scientists. Some experts predicted that by 2030, more than 50% of Americans will suffer from obesity.

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However, if obesity is a problem for some people, it is a way to make money for others. The objectives of economic industries are engaged in meeting the demands of the customers with excessive weight. At least nine sectors of the United States economy have considerable profits due to this problem.

Firstly, naturally, this list is headed by the fast food industry. Over the past five years, the sales of McDonald ‘s rose by 26%, Wendy’s – by 9%, while the fast-food chain Subway had its sales increased by 48%. While the numbers deal only with the United States statistics, one could imagine that the international growth is more impressive. Worldwide, there are more than 33 thousands McDonald’s restaurants. In 1992, there were only 12,7 thousand points of the famous restaurant in the world.

The suppliers of the products take the second position in the problem facilitation. Huge fast food restaurant chains require suppliers, primarily of raw materials. Meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit, bread, etc. are purchased at wholesale. In 2011, McDonald ‘s spent at least $10 billion on food.

Industry of snacks. It is expected that cashflow of the snacks industry will grow in 2016 up to 77 billion dollars. In comparison, in 2006, this sector of the economy was estimated at 56 billion dollars. The experts expect further rapid growth because it is very easy and comfortable to buy a chocolate bar snack. It does not need much time to eat or a specially equipped room for meals.

Health. Chronic diseases force Americans to spend two thirds of their income on health care. Obesity is one of the most popular health issues in the United States. Private clinics receive 53% of its profit from servicing people with the overweight problems. There are also expensive and risky medical surgeries that are directed to helping people who suffer from overeating. The average cost of gastric bypass surgery is 20 thousand dollars.

Manufacturers of diabetic products. One of the complications of obesity is diabetes. Pharmaceutical companies make big money by selling drugs for diabetics. For example, the company Merk increased its sales by 67% in the first quarter of 2014. Last year, the companies in India sold so many antidiabetic drugs that the total profit comprised of 700 million dollars.

Tablets for weight loss. The experts predict a big future for companies that manufacture tablets from obesity. For example, the company Medifast finished the first quarter of 2012 with a profit of 88.9 million dollars adding 20% to annual rate.

Mass media. There is a direct link between the problem of obesity and physical activity. Curiously, overweight people are more likely to watch reality shows. In addition, the problem of obesity gives the idea of media managers to create appropriate gear. In the US, more than 7.2 million people watch the show “The Biggest Loser”, where the winner is the person who loses more weight than other participants. The winner receives 250 thousand dollars as a reward for the fight against overweight.

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Energy. At first glance, it may seem strange, but energy companies benefit from the fact that people are overweight. Generally, people with overweight spend more time at home. As a result, they consume more electricity. Moreover, while flying on airplanes, people having obesity increase the total weight of the aircraft, which, in turn, leads to the fact that the patrol consumption increases.

Textile industry. Stout people need spacious clothing. That is the concept developed by the corporation Casual Male Retail Group, that created a market chain Big & Tall, which annually earns more than half a billion dollars.

It is also important to note that according to recent studies, obesity, being rapidly spread in the world, has the same impact on the environment. As for Earth’s resources, it is the same as the increase of the world population in one billion. Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine first calculated the total weight of the world’s population, which is evaluated at 287 million tons. 15 million tons are attributed to overweight people, while 3.5 million tons attribute to those who are suffering from obesity.

US scientists believe unhealthy diet cause early death. The researchers from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) called unhealthy diet the most common worldwide cause of an early death. According to experts, poor diet is characterized by the consumption of small amount of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and cereals due to increased consumption of red meat, salt, and sugary soft drinks. The researchers also note that unhealthy eating has more negative impact on the human body than alcohol and tobacco. Malnutrition leads to instability of the body, the emergence of many diseases including heart disease, heart stroke, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

The study also found that the same risk factors have different impact on mortality in many countries. For example, in South-East Asia and India, more people die from bad environment, while in high-income countries, the major cause of deaths is smoking. In Latin America and the Middle East, obesity is considered the main health risk. In Africa, several scientists call malnutrition, dirty water, unprotected sex, and alcohol the main factors leading to early death.

Recently, Americans that eat clean and healthy food were surprised by the fact that the government allowed to sell genetically modified food in the local markets. The first one genetically modified animal being allowed to utilization was the AquAdvantage salmon. The US Administration of Food and Drug Quality believes that AquAdvantage salmon is safe for human health.

According to experts, a fragment of DNA being implanted into salmon in order to accelerate growth does not cause any harm. However, this genetic modification allows the fish to gain weight 2-3 times faster. Moreover, the researchers compared the samples of the genetically modified salmon and natural one and found no biological differences between them. The representatives of AquAdvantage are completely sterile, cannot interbreed with oceanic populations, and cannot independently reproduce in captivity.

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It should be noted that the company AquaBounty Technologies has been producing AquAdvantage salmon since 1989. The application for the product’s approval was filed in 2003, but all the necessary permits have not been granted until now.

Despite enhancing healthy eating habits and decreasing the obesity level, Americans celebrate an uncommon holiday every Saturday – The Day of Junk Food. 60% of Americans suffering from obesity celebrate this holiday every day. The Day of Junk Food is the day devoted to the fans of chips, fries, sweets, and fast-food chains products. Even the most popular national dishes, hot dogs or sausages in bread, belong to the category of “junk food.” Therefore, it is not surprising that over 60% of Americans suffer from overweight; and if the “obese nation” follows its current dynamics, 75% of people will be in the category of heavyweights in the nearest future. For some people, every day is the day of junk food. For others, it is an opportunity to fall greedily without feeling guilty for the products from which they usually refrain. The supporters of such holiday celebration claim that everything unhealthy is delicious. Accordingly, they call everyone to visit some fast-food restaurant and take at least the portion of French fries, buy a package of popcorn in cinema, drink some Coke, eat a slice of pizza, and finish the celebration with sweet cream. Not all Americans agree to celebrate the holiday claiming that such celebration will only aggravate the problem and cause a lot of damage. A scientist and microbiologist Michael Jacobson first used the term “junk food” 40 years ago. He indicated those products that contain a lot of calories and harmful substances with minimal nutritional value (no vitamins and minerals) with this term.

Kris Gunnars proposed a list of twelve most popular reasons why people get fat supporting them with graphs that provide evidence for the issue. First of all, people now eat more junk food than ever. In ancient times, people were eating only the food they could produce themselves (vegetables and meat from their own farms), and they did not know about junk food, soda, and genetically modified products. With the establishment of the above-mentioned products, the variety of goods increased, but the level of health significantly decreased.

The consumption of sugar multiplied substantially over the last 120 years. Sugar, also known as “the white death”, is considered to be the most harmful ingredient in any current diet. Its excessive usage can lead to such diseases as diabetes, cancer, and heart issues. Moreover, it has a negative effect on metabolism, slowing it and causing extra fat accumulation. Sugar gives the organism no positive vitamins or minerals. It does not nurture the body but makes it consume more food than usually.

Economic Issues

Unemployment

Unemployment is a macroeconomic problem that provides the most direct and powerful effect on everyone. Loss of work means for most people lower living standards and causes serious psychological injury. As a result, it is not surprising that the problem of unemployment is the subject of political debates. Many government officials use the so-called “misery index”. It was invented in the USA in the 1970s by Arthur Ocana for assessing the economic situation during the “oil shocks”. Since then, there were little changes.

Traditionally, the index is an arithmetic sum of inflation and unemployment. However, about a dozen years ago, this formula changed. The upgraded index, apart from unemployment and inflation, started also to include interest rates, budget deficits, current account balance, and GDP growth.

Unemployment brings a big problem to persons who lost their jobs and try to find another one,  to the society, and to the economy as a whole. Unemployment costs are the costs spent on the problem. The charges may be economic and social.

1) The social costs. First, the income is considerably reduced or even approaches zero level. Second, the issue with receipts are causing problems with the volume and quality of consumption. Unemployment affects the level of economic well-being of the human, and his/her family. Third, unemployment often leads to loss of skills. Maintaining the level of professional qualifications can be done in a number of cases through systematic practice. Fourth, new job being found is less profitable than the former one. This can serve as one of the reasons of qualification training in the period of unemployment. Moreover, unemployment brings significant psychological problems. The psychological state of a person changes, it causes depression, a sense of inferiority, life dissatisfaction, and nervousness. There can also occur stresses and health problems. The number of suicides is rapidly growing comprising of 32% of total deaths.

2) The economic costs. First of all, it deals with the underproduction of GDP. The real volume of national production is less potential that the society could have fully reach using the labor resources at its disposal. Secondly, unemployment causes a social tension. The higher is its level, the greater is the degree of tension. Unemployment is fraught with displays of the political conflicts and mass protests in the society. It is, in general, a threat to social stability. Unemployment, obviously, negatively affects family relationships.

Third, the increased unemployment could complicate the criminal situation in the country and contribute to the growth of crime rates, thereby reducing the security of citizens. The economic and psychological problems appearing for people who experienced unemployment may push them to unlawful acts. On the other hand, the increase of the security level will affect taxpayers who will have to do more tax contributions.

Thus, one can see that unemployment is a serious personal and social problem. Its decisions are the responsibilities of the workers themselves, employers, and the state. The labor market is the main regulator of employment. However, the solution to achieving full employment requires the active participation of the state.

Social Impacts of Unemployment

Unemployment destroys a vital component of the citizens’ regular lifestyle. It also ruins the confidence in the following day that is provided by the assurance of the right to work, being fully employment, and having interesting and profitable work. Simultaneously, it must be borne in mind that for the majority of people, the employment was not as much a source of income in the recent past as a matter of honor and human dignity. Thus, depriving the opportunity to work today is also a great social tragedy.

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In people’s minds, the appearance of unemployment is inextricably linked to economic reforms. Therefore, negative attitude to unemployment can be expressed by the rejection of the economic transformation process. This narrows the social base of reforms, hampering economic growth in the country.

Unemployment leads to inaction of man, and this may cause degradation of an individual. Unemployment is inextricably linked to depressed mental state. There is a connection between unemployment and divorce. The increase of the unemployment level also increases the level of divorces.

An important social consequence of unemployment for a person is the loss of stable and regular income aimed at providing services and products necessary for life. In circumstances where the income of a person is low and he/she is not able to earn any cash or have other savings, such loss is particularly a huge disaster.

Unemployment, while decreasing the income of the families, strengthens the differentiation of the population. This happens contrary to the notion of equality as egalitarian distribution, which is rooted in the minds of millions of people. A lot of time is needed to make most people realize that equal distribution inhibits the growth of production efficiency and is detrimental to the state and people. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that the current differentiation of income is not economically justified and does not contribute to social peace in the country and the production efficiency.

All these factors inhibit the moral principles of human behavior. An individual became irritable, stale, indifferent to the fate of others; s/he feels humiliated and unwanted in terms of the family and society. This kills the initiative of a man, enhances uncertainty and incertitude in personal power and capabilities, reduces labor and civil capacity. Unemployment leads to inaction, marginalization of population, worsening social and psychological climate within society. It can act as a source of destabilization, social unrest, and social upheaval. This is possible when all the dimensions exceed the permissible level.

Unemployment can serve as a condition for socio-economic destabilization if its threat touches the staff of not very numerous but well-organized professional groups that play an important role in the economic life of the country or in some other kind of activity (miners, doctors, teachers). Unemployment also becomes a factor of socio-economic destabilization when the number of so-called “desperates” (individuals who cannot find job for a long time) increases significantly. The existence of such category of people appears due to the fact that the person who lost the job because his/her profession is unnecessary may be forced to find employment in such jobs that require lower qualifications that are usually sooner or later “closed”. In this case, it becomes even more complicated for a person to find any job.

Speaking about unemployment, one must bear in mind that its effects as a complex socio-economic phenomena cannot be estimated unambiguously. It does not only have a negative value. Unemployment is one of the most important conditions for proper and smooth functioning of the economy. It provides the formation of a reserve workforce as an essential factor in the development of market economy, which always makes the demand for labor. Unemployment provides necessary redistribution of production personnel, their concentration in the activities of manufacturing products and providing services that are in high demand.

Economic Effects of Unemployment

The economic consequences of unemployment are very diverse and ambiguous. Their structure is quite complex as well. Mostly, the researches study economic losses, which include the amount of aid and various unemployment benefits, the costs of retraining, opening new jobs, the reduction of income of the people who found themselves unemployed, etc. Moreover, the studies estimate the amount of potential products that could be produced by the unemployed, the reduction of payments to the budget (taxes), and state insurance funds. At the same time, the losses from unemployment costs are calculated mainly at the level of the national economy. It should be noted that unemployment is a very complex and multifaceted phenomenon, and its consequences are found almost at all levels of economic and social life. Moreover, they directly affect not only the economy but also every member of the economic process.

In this context, dealing with the issue of economic costs, one should provide the level of their assessment. It is important to mention the country, region, sector, company, and the unemployed individual here. The legality of such an approach is proved by the conviction that the losses of every level are autonomous. The calculation results of a particular level cannot be used in evaluating the damages of another level. In particular, the losses of the company cannot be expressed by the losses of its employees. The level approach to estimating unemployment losses allows to perform more specific and targeted analysis of its economic impact.

The Okun’s law charges the basis of the calculation of unemployment costs. It has two sides, one of which shows what should the economic growth be like in order to solve the unemployment problem, while the other expresses quantitative dependence of unemployment and GDP.

In any case, the undeniable fact is that the excess rate of unemployment over its natural level leads to backlog growth in real production output. This method of determining economic costs of unemployment seems quite reasonable and is accepted in domestic and world economics. The fundamental point of Okun’s law is determining the level of natural unemployment. The solution of the problem allows more accurate assessment of the actual costs of underproduction of gross domestic product.

For many people, the loss of job changes their life substantially. Unemployment puts them into a difficult condition, both moral and material. If the person has no savings, he/she experiences a significant deterioration of life level and is forced to refuse from common and necessary things. Moreover, unemployment can cause the absolute absence of money even for food.

The potential losses of the unemployed people are significant. However, unemployment brings harm not only to people but also to the economy as demand for goods and services is reduced, and the volume of production decreases well.

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The result of unemployment is the increasing competition in the labor market for the most prestigious jobs. Its high level can lead to individual and very large populations being forced to replace demeaning and uninteresting jobs for them. In this case, the employment for them will bear a “forced” character, and such work is not considered to be highly effective and does not provide the necessary quality of work.

Moreover, in such circumstances, it is not possible to form a stable production teams, the need for which is obvious. Orientation on democratic, humanistic principles of work involves not just providing poor man with job, but with a job that would fit the profile of the person’s experience, preparation, abilities, and desires.

The economic consequences of unemployment for the individual can be expressed in the reduction of labor value, especially in conditions increasing the duration of unemployment. There are cases when employers, particularly in small enterprises, set a longer (compared to the statutory) working week, reduce the duration of leave, do not finance sick leave (including those connected with childbirth), and refuse to hire women. They may cancel the contract of lease without any good reason, etc.

Ultimately, the rising unemployment suggests a general distress for the economy and mistakes in the economic policy of the government. However, it may be hardly justified that the consequences of unemployment are equal and always act solely as negative and appear as losses. Naturally, there is a positive aspect of unemployment, which, like many negative consequences, is not studied.

Unemployment and its growth give quite an accurate and effective “signal” to the employee that his/her profession, expertise, skills are obsolete, and the qualification level does not meet the standards and demands of the current times. This encourages employees to improve systematically their professional skills. The problem may “induce” the man to improve his/her skills, gain new knowledge of the second and/or third profession. Often, unemployment forces the person to get higher education as it is believed that such education opens the doors to well-paid and stable jobs.

In this case, the unemployed, to some extent, does not experience losses, and the material costs are often calculated and justified in his/her view. Accordingly, such people perceive the costs differently (if the losses justify themselves and bring benefit in the future, there is no sense to speak about them).

Conclusion

Having analyzed the most relevant problems the population of the united States is facing recently, one can undoubtedly claim that the problem of obesity and “Americans getting fat” are not always the issues of personal choice. There are many economic reasons that cause the problem, aggravate it, and do not allow it disappear. The main reason of that is the benefits and profits earned from the issue. In the paper, there are mentioned the unemployment phenomenon among the most influential economic factors that enhance health problems, particularly overweight. Unemployment deprives people of spending enough money on natural food, and, therefore, they are forced to buy cheaper but absolutely unhealthy food. Moreover, it seems impossible to deal with the problem, while the issue is the main source of income for large corporations, industries, and economics as a whole. For instance, medical corporations get almost a half of their profit selling antidiabetic drugs and pills enhancing weight loss. Imagining how much they can lose if the population of the United States starts eating clean, healthy, and organic foods, one can understand that it is almost impossible to influence its deterioration. All in all, regardless of how much money a person has, he/she can always find the way out and find an alternative for the junk food. Moreover, no one rejected physical training that can be performed at home and needs no money at all. In order to get rid of the problem, every citizen has to realize how much he/she is dependent on the government that gives them choice without choice itself and creates the conditions that make them act in a way it expects from them. Only when every individual realizes the scale of the problem and starts breaking the system, the society will enter the path to healthy and happy future.