Fast food is food that requires less preparation time and is prepared in bulks at fast food joints. It takes less time to prepare and can be found easily.
Despite it being a more popular choice of food than the home cooked food, it is not good for health. It contains saturated fats, trans fats, high sodium and sugar content which are all unhealthy. This is why fast food has less nutritional value.
Fast food consists of burgers, fries, pizzas, hot dogs, sugar-containing beverages among many other different kinds of dishes.
Table of Contents
- What is processed food?
- What are the adverse effects of obesity on health?
- What does science say about link of fast food and obesity?
- How Do Trans Fatty acid Contribute To Obesity?
- How Do Saturated Fats Affect Our Health?
- What are the effects of high sodium intake on health?
- How Does Sugar Affect Weight Loss and Health?
What is processed food?
The food which has been prepared and changed into another form which can be readily consumed is known as processed food. Usually it is preserved so that it can be used for a longer period of time and can be stored easily.
It is easy to market and transport food from one place to another in its processed form as it does not get spoiled as compared to the fresh food.
Processed food can be harmful to health as well. The mineral content decreases during the processing of these foods. Also, a high amount of unhealthy fats and sugar are added to improve the taste of the food while processing it.
What are the adverse effects of obesity on health?
BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is the measure of the fat present in the body of a person. It is calculated using the height and the weight of the person.
A low BMI indicates that the person is underweight and malnourished, whereas a high BMI means that the person is obese, or overweight, and needs to lose weight.
A person is said to be obese when their BMI is greater than 25. Obesity may lead to severe health risks. It is caused when the intake of energy is more than the amount burnt.
Some of the health problems it causes are-
- Heart diseases like Coronary heart disease, Heart attack, Angina or Heart failure.
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
Nowadays fast food has become a part of our daily meals. Fast food has been linked with obesity due to the increased levels of fats and sugar. It is said to be one of the leading factors for causing weight gain among people.
A study was conducted to show that people who eat fast food regularly are prone to being overweight. This is because fast food contains a larger amount of calories as compared to the healthy foods.
Another study proved that fast food consumption is connected to an increasing rate of obesity.
Fast food has also been found to be related to Body Mass Index (BMI). It leads to an increase in the body weight, which further leads to a higher BMI.
Due to the changes in lifestyle, people have felt the need to incorporate fast foods in their diet.
Soft drinks are another cause of obesity. These beverages contain a very high amount of sugar. This increases the total amount of calories consumed.
One study suggested that the availability of fast food joints should be reduced as it leads to people buying more sweetened drinks.
Apart from obesity, having fast food on a regular basis also increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. This happens because the dietary trans-fatty acids present in the fast food increase the resistance to the hormone insulin in the body.
Having more fast food has been found to be related to the intake of a high amount of energy along with a poor quality of diet. Fast food is said to be energy dense food because of the large number of calories present in it.
Low energy density diet consists of foods which are high in fiber and proteins. High energy density diet consists of foods containing high amounts of fat, starch and sugar.
These should be avoided as they are unhealthy, while low energy density food such as fruits and vegetables should be included in the diet.
Another study suggested that there are other healthy fast food options to choose from, which contain lower energy and amount of fat as compared to the usual fast food.
Consumption of fast food along with the easy availability of fast food chains has been linked with a poor quality of diet among people. Studies recommend that this should be reduced so as to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Studies have reported that even children tend to consume more calories than the required amount in the form of fast food. This may lead to many health-related problems at an early age.
How Do Trans Fatty acid Contribute To Obesity?
Trans-fatty acids, also known as trans-fats, are a type of unsaturated fatty acids. They are produced in industries using the fats present in the vegetables. They are present in almost all fast foods, and are not good for health.
It has been proved that trans fats increase the level of bad cholesterol in the body, which leads to the risk of coronary heart disease.
In a study, it was mentioned that trans fats lead to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease among other health problems.
How Do Saturated Fats Affect Our Health?
This type of fat includes cheese, cream, butter, red meat etc. It is present in high amounts in fast food items. It is one of the factors for causing obesity and other diseases.
According to the results of a clinical trial, reducing the amount of saturated fats in the diet decreases the risk of heart problems, mainly cardiovascular disease.
Substituting saturated fats and trans fats with healthy fats such as olive oil decreases the harm caused to the body.
Avoiding saturated fat in meals can lead to the reduction of low density lipoproteins or bad cholesterol by significant levels.
What are the effects of high sodium intake on health?
Sodium is a mineral primarily found in salt. When fast food containing a large amount of salt is consumed, the level of sodium in the body exceeds the required amount. This could be bad for health.
Studies have shown a relationship between sodium intake and high blood pressure.
An article mentioned that lowering the sodium consumption can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
How Does Sugar Affect Weight Loss and Health?
Sugars can be of various types including monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides. While glucose is fine, high amounts of fructose and sucrose lead to various metabolic abnormalities.
Adding sugar in food items increase the risk of several heart diseases such as cardiovascular disease, which may even further lead to death.
A way to decrease the amount of unhealthy fats taken is to inform the consumers about the amount of calories present in each food item on the menu. It would allow people to choose healthier fast food options with lower unsaturated fats.
Health professionals, including doctors and dieticians, should also inform people about the healthier alternate fast food options.
We can conclude that fast food is always fattening and unhealthy. It affects the health severely, causing many chronic diseases and health risks.
Completely stopping the consumption of fast food is not possible in today’s time. However, the effects of fast food can be minimized by taking certain precautions. Some of them can include –
- Reducing the size of the portion of food.
- Having foods with lesser salt and sugar. This reduces the sodium and calorie intake.
- Avoiding fried food.
- Having foods which contain a low amount of fats and oils.
- Avoiding sweetened beverages.
- Choosing comparatively healthier fast food options.
This would either decrease the number of fast food chains as people would stop going there or it would lead to those chains including healthy meals on their menu.