What are the effects of fast food on your health? You may be vaguely aware that they aren't good for you, but if you regularly eat at fast food restaurants, it's important that you understand the consequences of what you're putting in your body.
Unhealthy Effects of Fast Food on Your Body
While a quick, cheap meal might seem like a great idea when you're starving and on the run, the long-term consequences of consuming fast food can negatively affect your health. The amount of sugar, fat, sodium, and empty calories in fast foods can cause serious health problems in both adults and children.
High Caloric Intake Effects
Many factors come into play when it comes to fast food risks and a high calorie count is on the top of the list. A double Whopper has 1,020 calories, a whopping number considering that the American Heart Association a moderately active adult should have between 1,800 and 2,400 calories a day.
CBS News explores the connection between the restaurant chains and children in its feature, Fast Food Linked to Childhood Obesity. Extra weight affects a person's overall health, and when obesity begins in childhood, the child is faced with a lifelong struggle with weight and health issues. One of the most troublesome aspects of the topic is the effects of fast food on children.
Type 2 Diabetes
A frightening aspect of adopting a regular fast food habit is the potential to develop type 2 diabetes. Francine Ratner Kaufman, MD explores this issue in her article, Type 2 Diabetes in Children and Young Adults: A "New Epidemic" featured on Clinical Diabetes.
Kaufman is a pediatric endocrinologist and she is president of the American Diabetes Association. She urges schools to employ nutrition counselors and to remove fast food items from their menus in an effort to help students make the right dietary choices.
Cholesterol is a considerable problem for many people. This component has a serious impact on the body, including hardening of the arteries and heart problems. Some of the problems that develop with a high-cholesterol diet involve the brain. A recent doctorate study has found a link between genes that create apolipoprotein E (a component that transports cholesterol) and Alzheimer's disease.
The potential to develop Alzheimer's disease is a surprising risk to eating fast food in excess. In its article, Fast Food a Potential Risk Factor For Alzheimer's, Science Daily explores research conducted by Susanne Akterin from Karolinska Institute (KI), a Swedish university. Akterin found that mice developed chemical changes in the brain similar to those found in Alzheimer brains.
Hardening of the Arteries
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol found in fatty foods can cause serious problems in the heart and in the arteries. The blood is unable to process this form of cholesterol properly; it oxidizes cholesterol, creating a substance called plaque. Plaque builds up in the arteries, gradually clogging them.
What About Fast Food Salads?
If you're standing at the counter of your local burger place, clearly the most healthy thing you can order is a salad or other seemingly nutritious item. While these are definitely better than a bacon double cheeseburger with fries and a coke, keep in mind that the "healthy" food that you get at fast food restaurants aren't exactly the best thing you could be eating, either.
The vegetables included in fast food salads are generally GMO products grown under less than ideal conditions for producing optimal nutritional content. Pushed to produce at the maximum level, these crops are usually sprayed with chemical pesticides and herbicides. Often prefab salads have been on the shelf for quite a while, and as any learned veggie person can tell you, vegetables begin to lose their nutrients not long after they've been harvested.
Besides the low quality of the produce, there's the added bonus of everything else they throw in the salad. Even those tasty looking grilled chicken salads can contain 22 percent of your daily fat intake, 43 percent of your daily cholesterol allotment, and 40 percent of your sodium allowance. You get all that and a solid dose of trans-fat!
Long Story Short
People who consume a great deal of fast food run an increased risk of developing conditions such as:
- High cholesterol
- Digestive problems
- Liver problems
- Heart disease
If you eat a healthy diet high in nutrient-rich foods, you can decrease your chances of developing these health problems.
If you want to know more about the effects of fast food on your health, check out these links for more information:
- Nutrition Data will allow you to search for fast food (or others foods) to see their nutritional content.
- Center for Young Women's Health hosts a page with information about fast food.
- The Yale-New Haven Hospital's page on the dangers of a fast food diet.
- Tips for eating at fast food restaurants - complete with meal comparisons.
- A BBC article on why fast food makes you fat.