Inner city communities suffer from many health issues such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, strokes and other chronic illnesses. Though genetics and an inactive lifestyle can be determining factors on an individual’s health, it is important not to ignore the major impact that a community’s environment has on the residents. Over the past twelve years obesity has become a major health concern in many communities throughout the United States . The abundance of Fast Food restaurants in inner city neighborhoods can explain why so many people suffer from obesity. When a community’s diet consists of food low in vital nutrients and high in fat intake, it is no surprise why many of these regions have such a high death rate and have such negative medical conditions.
Fast food refers to chain store restaurants that have expedited food service, takeout business, limited or no wait staff and a payment tendered prior to receiving food.
Inner city communities refers to residential sections of large urban areas, mainly consisting of working class and groups of people traditionally economically disadvantage because of institutionalize racism. People in these communities are often people of color.
Barriers to Healthier Food Choices In Inner City Communities The inability for individuals to maintain a healthy diet in inner city communities can be contributed to the lack of adequate access to supermarkets, good transportation, and affordable foods. Usually, what is offer in these communities is a considerable amount of fast food restaurants and corner stores that do not offer fresh fruits and vegetables but outdated goods.
A study done in Mississippi, North Carolina, Maryland, and Minnesota by Kimberly Morland, Steve Wing, Ana Diez Roux and Charles Poole, compared the access to supermarkets and convenience stores that were located in poor neighborhoods, to that of wealthier communities. The results of their study showed that there were four times more supermarkets located in wealthier neighborhoods than poorer communities. The study also suggested that people in inner city communities often times have to travel outside of their neighborhoods to get quality goods because there are not enough supermarkets in these communities to service all of its residents. The field studied showed that only five supermarkets were located in 35 predominately poor, black neighborhoods, which is supposed to services 118,000 people. While in a predominately white, wealthier neighborhood there were 68 supermarkets to services 259,500 residents. This means that for every 1 supermarket in the predominately white neighborhood it services 3,816 residents, versus for every 1 supermarket located in the predominately black community it services a total of 23,582. This is a significant difference that shows that many inner city communities lack the essential food markets for them to live a healthier life.
Some might argue that people in the inner city can drive or take public transportation to supermarkets that have more variety and healthier options. Though this is true, it is less likely that individuals in poor communities own a car. Public transportation is also not always the most convenient alternative. This makes the locality of supermarkets very crucial to the neighborhood. Without convenient access to food shops, this encourages the consumption of fast food and corner store goods. The cost of food is another major factor as to why individuals who live in inner city communities would choose to consumer fast food instead of fruits and vegetables. The lack of supermarkets causes residents to greatly depend on corner stores that sell these goods for a much higher price. Individuals in these communities often pay 3% to 37% more for their groceries than residents that buy the same goods in large shops. The reason individuals in inner city communities eat fast food more than other people is not because they like fast food more. The reasons are because of the lack of resources available to them in their communities.
The Reasons Fast Food Restaurants Target Inner City Communities
Fast food restaurants target disadvantage neighborhoods for a number of reasons.
1)Low competitions.. This study also examined how consumer stereotypes are constantly perpetuated in our society. For example, it was stated that people of color were often shown sitting at a dinner table eating Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food instead cooking a home meal. Fast Food franchises such as McDonald's, Burger King, and Kentucky Fried Chicken most often had ads for product promotion that emphasized how cheap their items on their menu's are. This sort of marketing strategies appeals to low socioeconomic communities. The Fast Food industry started to target inner city communities more in 1996 when the overall American population started to become more health conscious and ate food less in high fat intake. This caused fast food corporations to increase marketing in low socioeconomic communities. Making them the primarily clients. These types of items were easy to serve and were sold at cheap prices. This formula allowed White Castle to expand greatly during the Great Depression. During this time White Castle established 116 new restaurants in 12 major cities throughout the United States. . White Castle lead the way to other major franchises such as McDonald's that completely changed the way Americans ate. From the beginning of the late 1940s and early 1950s McDonald's stressed the importance of speed and productions. Their menus consisted of just 9 items instead of their original 25 items. Burgers cost only .15 cents instead of .35 cents. . Fast Food Franchises soon started to become more popular in American society and other restaurants such as Burger King and Jack in the Box followed McDonald's in the 1950’s. . This was all due possible to the new technological advancements in food production which allow fast food entrepreneurs to sell their goods for cheap and also fast food industries close relations to President Richard Nixon and their allies in Congress who opposed new food safety regulations and minimum wage laws that would limit Fast Food franchise productivity. Most recently, in 2005 a bill was passed by Congress that does not allow anyone to sue fast food industries for their health issues. (H.R. 544, the “Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act). This is evident of how closely corporations work with the government. . This though did not stop Americans from consuming fast food, especially people in inner cities. In 1970, it was noted that Americans spend $6 billion on fast food and it has even increased to $110 billion in the year 2000.
Are fast food industries really that bad? Though fast food restaurants do have a negative impact in inner city communities in respect to health, many people encourage new developments. The main reason is that fast food establishment create jobs for the residents of the community. McDonald's for example is responsible for 90% of all new jobs in the United States. McDonald's annually hires more people than any other private or public organization, making them the main contributors for new job openings in the economy. . Some might argue that the reason why so many people of color have such brand loyalty to Fast Food chains such as McDonald's, is because they support the communities that are so often dis-invested by corporate America. Many fast food chains sponsor cultural events and community organizations. For example, East New York, Brooklyn is a disadvantaged community that has long struggle with poverty and racism, and not many retail stores cared to open businesses in this community. In 2002, White Castle held a “Fastest Griddle Operator” contest and donated food to this neighborhood. Events such as this, create a positive public image for fast food restaurants. Inner city individuals soon start to associate the positive changes in their community with fast food chains, encouraging their presence. Fast food chains have also helped communities economy and are viewed as neighborhood revitalizers. For example, shortly after the civil rights movement, African Americans started to become store owners/managers of new fast food restaurants developments in the inner cities. This allowed the owners to hire many young people from the community, offering them their first work experience. This helped the communities keep young people off the streets and brought new jobs into the regions. This is one of the reasons individuals in inner cities encourage the growth of fast food franchises in their neighborhoods. Fast food restaurants help create a sense of community and help fight poverty.