Cambodian Youth’s Food Consumption

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World Food Day 2011 Essay Competition By ENG Ramin Are Cambodian youth, hereinafter defined as those whose ages are between fifteen and thirty, consuming food in a healthy and sustainable manner? According to U.S. Department of Agriculture, a healthy food is ‘‘a plant or animal product that provides essential nutrients and energy to sustain growth, health and life while satiating hunger’’ (USDA, 2005). In the light of this definition, healthy food contributes to a sustainable way of living by preventing individuals from illnesses and ensuring physical and mental growth. Unfortunately, over recent years, Cambodian youth have been increasingly consuming fast food and alcohol, which indeed are considered very unhealthy. Phnom Penh and other large cities in the country todays are home to many fast food restaurants such as KFC, The Pizza Company, Master Grill, etc. According to a survey conducted by Chan and Sok (2010) on 250 students randomly selected from two universities and two high schools in Phnom Penh, 98% of the students said they go to fast food restaurants at least twice a month. Several reasons explain this preference. Globalization allows the continuous spread of cultures which, undoubtedly, include fast food. Also, Cambodia sees a rising middle class who can afford to go to those restaurants. Similarly, equipped with modern furniture, air-conditioned, and wireless internet connected, such restaurants are very nice places not only for going out with friends but also for discussing school work. Correspondingly, peers’ influence and advertisement are another two important factors. As many as 80% of respondents said they go to eat there because it is quite common for young people while some 75% answered that they get enticed by the tempting images of fast food through advertisements (Chan and Sok, 2010). What do they eat there? Their menus, of course, cover

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