Is Fast Food the new tobacco?

Visual Analysis of ‘Where Should I Eat?’
Fast foods are increasingly becoming popular and controversial at the same time. Not only can you find fast food restaurants opened at almost any time of the day, but also easily available across different locations, in different forms (cash and carry, drive-in and cafeteria service). The availability of different fast foods restaurants is perhaps a statement of the reliance that the bulk of the population has on the restaurants. More fast food restaurants are available to different age groups, and catering for the difference in taste, pocket, and preference. These include Tim Holtons, In-N-Out, Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, Subway, Taco Bell, Jack in the box, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Sonic, DQ, White Castle, Arby’s, KFC and Long John Silver’s. Teenagers on the other hand, are among the trendiest age group, with cult-like following on new trends, which include fast food restaurants. Therefore, most teenagers would want to know where their friends are eating out, in addition to their preference for their freedom, which fast foods provide, especially in relation to their food. It is perhaps the freedom and variety in choice among the teenager that informs the ‘Where Should I eat?’ showing a wide range of fast food restaurant choices for teenagers. The choice within the picture includes information on prices, pointing out among the most expensive of the restaurants, and therefore avoidable, especially for teenagers who are yet economic independent. Although it does present information for different restaurants for different times for the teenagers, it does not present any warnings on the dangers of too much intake of fast foods, which have become a major cause of diabetes and obesity among teenagers.
The picture ‘Where Should I Eat’ (as a graphic design) shows the top fast food restaurants both in the US and Canada. The central element within the picture is the choice one has among the myriads of fast food restaurants available in the US and Canada. Within the picture are questions (in a flow chart form) making suggestions on the time and place where these fast food restaurants are most appropriate. The picture there brings with it choices to people, particularly teenagers in the aforementioned countries, on the fast food restaurants available for the liking.
In growing up, teenagers are particularly rebellious and always desire the freedom of choice, in what they do, what they eat, where they eat it and how they look. This graphic image perhaps answers to this nature of teenagers, by not only providing a variety in choice on the different fast food restaurants, but also on the places and times appropriate to get meals at the different restaurants. Even more is that the graphic image additionally offers choice on the type of service to these teenagers, including drive through, cash and carry, on the road eating as well as cafeteria service. Although a good thing (choices), the availability of the restaurants causes confusion, perhaps a reflection of the confusing nature of adolescence. Of particular importance from the image is the confusion on the choice of restaurant, what to eat, as well as watching the weight, especially among teenage girls, who want to have a perfect body.
Thus, although the graphic image presents choices in pocket, time, place and restaurant, it does not offer choice in healthy eating, a concern of many, given the rising rates of obesity and diabetes among teens and children. Indeed, the availability of these fast food restaurants, while a good thing since they offer quick hunger fixes for every situation, do not provide quick fixes for these health problems. The questions within the image enquiring about different situations such as ‘Are you in Canada?’ and point to Tim Holtons, all provide suggestions on fast food restaurants to eat out. The questions are intriguing, as much as laughable, such as ‘Is your name Jared?’ and point to Subway. Another seemingly laughable question is ‘Are you drunk?’ then gives the option of yes and no, where ‘no’ asks another laughable question in language largely used by teenagers; ‘Are you high?’ Each of the responses point further down the chart, making suggestions along the way towards the fast food restaurant that matches the response. The image is therefore as intriguing and curious, as well as laughable, some of the very features found among teenagers. Even more curious is the question on age. Specifically, one of the questions asks ‘Are you older than 16’; 16 being the epitome of adolescence as one gets towards the age of majority.
While focusing on choice among the fast food restaurants around the place, the image is oblivious of other healthy food choices. By providing only fast food options, the image seems to lock out other things that could be fun for teenagers besides eating in the restaurants. The image therefore outrightly offers these options as a promotional stunt; a solution to any situation that these teenagers may find themselves in, including being a cure to drunkenness and being high. The image, therefore, almost seems to endorse getting high and drunk, as a visit to any of the fast food restaurants will miraculously take away the hangovers and other feelings that come with getting high.
In contrast however, it may be argued that the image is merely a list of fast food restaurants as possible choices for different situations. That indeed, the image does not encourage an visits to the fast food restaurants, but only gives the range of choices available to teenagers who feel like they want to eat. Again, the image has nothing to do with the rising rates of obesity and diabetes, as what one eats is absolutely an individual’s responsibility, and can therefore not be blamed on the fast food restaurants, who are merely in the business of selling food. The image merely spells out the choices one has, should he/she need to grab a quick meal, on their way home, early in the morning, late at night, while either drunk or high.
The image relies on the curious nature of humans, giving them familiar situation—late at night, drunk, early in the morning, in a car—situations that are common among teenagers. It offers choices for these situations at different places, and therefore appeals to its target market (teenagers), by mentioning them in the image’s questions. Thus, although the image gives these options for different situations and even uses language fit for the teenagers, as well as familiar situations, it does not take into consideration the very healthy choices available, as well as the alarming rates of obesity and diabetes that have resulted from taking food from fast food restaurants.