Hi, I am a student and am working on an assignment on the harmful effects of fast food. I know that they are unhealthy and cause eating disorder but I am looking for detailed reasoning that I can include in my assignment. Is it true that fast food can cause obesity? What are the other diseases or disorders that can result due to the intake of fast food. Also does it have any adverse effect on our digestive system? If yes, how and what are the problems that our digestive system can face due to intake of fast food items.
Harmful effects of fast food
Fast foods have become increasingly popular among Americans, including children. Due to increased advertising, an exponential rise in fast food restaurants and Americans` fast-paced lifestyle, fast food has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Fast food has had a negative impact on Americans of all ages, especially children, as it has been linked to serious health problems ranging from obesity to diabetes.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, between 16 and 33 percent of children in the United States are obese. Children are considered obese when they are 20 percent or more above the normal weight for their age and height. Obesity is caused by eating more calories than the body burns. Fast foods are notoriously high in calories and fat, and the consumption of fast food is linked to obesity. A burger from one popular fast food chain, for instance, contains 670 calories and 39g of fat, which is considered high in calories and almost at the daily recommended amount of fat (40g) per person, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines.
The high fat and cholesterol in most fast foods have been linked to a variety of heart problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, strokes and heart attacks. Children who are overweight are more prone to having high blood pressure, which is a dangerous condition with no symptoms that can lead to heart disease if left untreated. High cholesterol, which is caused by too much fat buildup in the arteries, also has no symptoms, and can result in stroke if untreated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five American teens has high cholesterol. The high saturated fat content of many fast food items can cause high cholesterol.
Diabetes is a metabolism disorder that is characterized by insulin problems, which results in an inability to break down sugar in the body. Eating too much sugar is a contributing factor to developing diabetes. Many fast food items are high in sugar, some containing more than the recommended daily amount in just one food item. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) performed a study concluding that 59 percent of the fast food products marketed to children did not meet CSPI`s nutrition standards. All of the sweet snacks, fruit-flavored snacks and cookies in the study were found lacking in nutrients. Many of these foods are high in sugar, which increases the risk of childhood diabetes.
Heart Attack Risk
Another problem associated with eating fast food involves the type of fat that is used in fast food restaurants. According to "New Scientist" magazine, items such as french fries and chicken nuggets from many fast food chains use trans fat, an artery-clogging fat used as a stabilizer in food processing. "New Scientist" explains that consuming trans fat can raise your cholesterol levels and dramatically increase your risk of heart attacks.
A less commonly known yet still dangerous side effect of eating fast food is liver damage. ABC News explains that eating high-fat foods from fast food restaurants can overload the liver and eventually lead to liver damage. Dr. Christine Ballantyne of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at the Methodist DeBakey Heart Center told ABC News that eating too much fast food over a period of time can actually damage the liver as much or more than drinking alcohol.
The New Community Project, a nonprofit environmental awareness organization, states that fast food restaurants contribute major damage to the environment each year. To make 1 lb. of hamburger, for example, it takes 16 lbs. of grains and up to 2,500 gallons of water. The New Community Project states that if more people ate a plant-based diet, there would be more food and water to feed people all around the world. They go on to say that some of the meat used in fast food restaurants in the United States is raised in South America, and rainforests had to be cut down to make room for the cattle.
Fast food costs relatively little and tastes good, but the negative effects on physical health last much longer than these immediate concerns. With the high-calorie meals come more fat, cholesterol, salt and sugar -- and therefore fewer vitamins, minerals and other nutrients -- than in healthier foods. The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans reports that these eating habits create nutritional deficiencies along with weight gain. The health problems that stem from overweight and obesity alone can severely limit lifestyles and shorten life spans.
Fast foods contain high amounts of cholesterol and salt, two nutrients that contribute to cardiovascular health problems. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report a direct link between sodium intake and negative effects on blood pressure, and note that Americans consume most of their sodium in processed and restaurant foods.
Many drive-through foods and drinks have high sugar content, including chocolate shakes, 62g of sugar, and colas, 44g, in 16-oz. servings as per the USDA. Fast food coleslaw, French toast sticks and even cheeseburgers contain significant amounts of sugar. Regularly consuming too much sugar can have permanent negative effects on your blood sugar levels.
Carrying excess body weight places unnecessary stress on your joints and heart. When you eat fast food at least once a week, you are more likely to be overweight because of the high calorie count of most fast foods, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture`s Nutrition Evidence Library. Obesity carries serious health risks to both adults and children. You place yourself at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, joint disorders, high blood pressure and mobility problems if your fast food consumption results in taking in more calories than you need.
High cholesterol often results from consuming excess saturated fat and excessive amounts of cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association. Over time, high cholesterol can affect your risk of both heart disease and strokes. When you eat a small cheeseburger from a fast food restaurant, you consume about 300 calories, 40 mg of cholesterol and 6 g of saturated fat. A double cheeseburger with 1/4 lb. of meat has more than 700 calories, 90 mg of cholesterol and 19 g of saturated fat. If you eat 2,000 calories a day, the 19 g of saturated fat is more than 100 percent of your recommended saturated fat allowance for the day. Healthier choices include grilled sandwiches or wraps.
Elevated Blood Pressure
The sodium in many fast food dishes may contribute to high blood pressure. The American Heart Association reports that eating a high-sodium diet causes a build up of fluid in your body, which makes your heart work harder. Over time, you could experience a stroke or develop heart disease. A triple hamburger has about 1,840 mg of sodium, eight fried chicken tenders have 610 mg and a fast food veggie burger with cheese contains 1,250 mg of sodium, which is more than 80 percent of your total daily allotment. Read the nutrition information available at most fast food restaurants to choose sandwiches and side dishes with less sodium.
A steady diet of fast food may cause you to miss out on eating enough fruits and vegetables, as many fast food meals lack substantial amounts of those foods. Additionally, many fast food meals contain little or no dairy products, use mainly white flour and do not use healthier oils when preparing foods. If you become nutritionally deficient, you may develop health problems such as osteoporosis or bone loss from a lack of vitamin D or experience a repressed immune system from a lack of vitamin A. If you only eat fast food, you could develop a rare vitamin C deficiency that can result in scurvy.
Excellent article ! I don`t think anyone dare continue consuming fast foods having gone through this article. It should be included in the school text books.Brilliant!!!!!!