I am going to be doing a persuasive speech in my public speaking class, and I want to do it about how the American diet is so bad, and ways to eat healthier all around, rather than being on a diet. This is just an idea, but what are some main topics I should hit if I do this, or is there a more clear topic I could do my speech on in general?
In my view, it is okay for you to do a persuasive speech on the need for Americans to eat in healthier ways. The major problem I see with this is deciding what your definition of healthier eating is.
If I were doing this speech, I would start out by talking about the problems caused by the current ways in which Americans eat. If you are going to argue that it is important for us to change our diets, you will need to establish that our current diets are problematic. This should not be hard, as you can easily find statistics about levels of obesity, rates of heart disease, diabetes, and other problems that are associated with poor nutrition. By establishing the seriousness of the problem, you give your listeners a reason to pay attention to the rest of your speech.
But now comes the hard part. It seems that scientists who study nutrition are no longer as certain as they once were about what we should be eating. For a long time, we were told to avoid fats, and particularly saturated fats. We were told to eat carbohydrates and low-fat proteins. However, there is a growing group of researchers who think that we should eat much less in the way of carbohydrates and that a high-fat diet is not a bad thing. In particular, there are many researchers who think that added sugar is the worst thing for us.
What I’m saying, then, is that I think your topic is fine. I think it is a relevant topic and one that will probably hold listeners’ attention. However, you will have to do some research and make some choices as to how you are going to define a healthy diet.
I have observed that many students tend to take on too much to cover effectively in a single paper or speech. You propose to talk about (1) all the bad things American eat, and then (2) what good things Americans should be eating. I think it would be easier and more effective to take one-half of this big subject. You are not going to cure all our eating problems with a single speech. I suggest that you focus on (1) all the bad things Americans are eating these days. If we stopped eating so many bad things we would end up eating a lot of better things just by default. You can find a lot of information about the bad things Americans eat just by checking Google. Reader's Digest has an article on the subject that is right at the top of the Google list.
The article is titled "The Worst Foods You Can Eat."
Number 1 is processed meat
Number 2 is some kinds of frozen meals
Number 3 is doughnuts
Number 4 is potato chips
Number 5 is processed low-fat foods
Number 6 is margarine
Number 7 is soda
There are other articles available on such subjects as the worst foods you can eat at fast-food places. It seems to me that if we stopped eating a lot of bad foods we would automatically start eating more good foods. So you might consider focusing on just the bad foods we eat. Don't try to say too much in one speech. Don't get buried under a lot of research material. Work smart! Less is more.
A persuasive speech must try to convince people of something they do not already know and believe. Since this is a topic which has been written about ad nauseam in the popular press, it is not really a good choice of topic. It is (1) too broad and (2) very unlikely that you will be able to say anything original on it.
Instead, you should narrow the focus of your topic to something where you can say something that would be new to a specific audience and narrow enough so that you could research it in depth using authoritative sources (such as the Centers for Disease Control, Mayo Clinic, or FDA).
A good focus might be to discuss one specific health fad that is popular right now among your classmates, and investigate whether there is actually any evidence to back it up, or whether it is a scam.
I truly believe this is an excellent topic to discuss as a persuasive speech. One area that you might want to touch upon is the idea of the effects of non-organic foods versus organic foods. Most people will believe that all organic foods are healthy for you, however for example cookies are still cookies regardless of if they are organic or not. However, it is all about eating foods in moderation.
If you would select this topic, I would touch upon the main benefits of eating organic food (the answer is the lack of processed ingredients). Here is a link from the Mayo Clinic to help you dive further into the topic: