From the Kitchen to Fast Food Restaurants

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Abstract

Changing lifestyles, rising incomes, and differential pattern of food consumption are symbolized in fast food and its expansion across developing countries. In Ghana, the proliferation of fast food restaurants is attributed to rapid urbanization, a growing middle class, and changing consumption patterns toward Western diets. While existing studies focus on the characteristics and socioeconomic implications of the fast food sector, little is known about the sociocultural and health implications of increasing consumption of fast food in Ghana. Based substantially on a review of existing literature, this article analyses the sociocultural and health implications of fast food in urban Ghana. Adopting a sociological perspective, this article demonstrates that fast food consumption is shaped by collective food and eating patterns enabled by existing social structures and relations. We argue the emerging fast food culture, which is part of a broader process of “modernizing” traditional ways of life in Ghana, reinforces both social differentiation among urban Ghanaians as well as the consumption of energy-dense and fatty food. These conditions, alongside sedentary lifestyles, contribute to severe health conditions, including type II diabetes, stroke, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases. On the basis of our findings, we recommend fast food restaurants should provide healthier food options for consumers.