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Obesity accounts for 300,000 deaths in the U.S. alone. Obesity rates are directly related to the number of fast-food restaurants in a certain area, according to research into junk food and fast-food restaurants. (Fitzpatrick, 2004).
Around 75 per cent of Americans eat their dinners at home, according to the Institute of Food Technologists, with fast food accounting for more than half of those meals. (Solomons, 1995).
Andrew F. Smith wrote the Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food where he describes junk food as “commercial products, such as candy, bakery goods, ice cream, salty snacks, and soft beverages, foods that are heavy in calories, salt, and fats but have little or no nutritional benefit.”
While not all fast foods are bad for you, the vast majority are. Fast foods are foods that are ready to eat right after you order them. Some fast foods are rich in calories but low in nutritious content, whereas salads, for example, are low in calories but high in nutritional value. (Smith, 2000).
There are so many reasons attached to why people eat junk foods, one important reason is that of the fact that they are quick and easy to make, in no time, they are ready to eat. Because of its easiness, junk food addiction is extremely common (Boca Raton and Smoley, 1993).
Another key factor that determines the decision to eat junk food is its deliciousness. This flavour is obtained by using a lot of oils, salts, and/or sugar (Fister, 2005).
Food additives and colours, as well as flavour improvement, are added to the packaging of such items, giving them a very appealing appearance. The packages that these foods come with go a long way to appeal one interest towards it.
Advertising has a significant influence in luring the general public, particularly children and teenagers, to junk food vending establishments (Dixon et al., 2007).
Junk food, like many other things, is often only recognized when it is seen. Looking at a product label can reveal what can be junk food, such as the fact that it has low nutritional value (Anderson et al., 2005).
In general, if one of the first two components contains fat or sugar, the dish is most certainly junk food. The presence of high fructose corn syrup in a product’s ingredients is also a red flag that it’s junk food (Anderson et al., 2005).
Eating junk foods have been associated with lots of diseases which include, Type 2 diabetes, Obesity, Cancer, Insulin resistance, Alzheimer’s disease e.t.c.
Fast food has various characteristics that produce hyperinsulinemia and the development of insulin resistance, such as its glycemic index and fatty acid composition (Heymsfield et al., 1999). Hyperinsulinemia is a condition in which the amount of insulin in your blood is higher than normal. While hyperinsulinemia alone does not cause diabetes, it is frequently associated with type 2 diabetes. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance is defined as a reduction in insulin activity. Insulin resistance is described as impaired glucose absorption in muscle and increased endogenous glucose synthesis by the liver, both in fasting and postprandial stages, resulting in hyperglycemia (NIH, 2021).
In hyperinsulinemia, the cells are unable to adequately utilise insulin, the pancreas interprets this as a demand for more insulin and produces more, the pancreas will eventually wear out and stop generating enough insulin to keep the blood sugar levels in check. Diabetes, a disorder marked by elevated blood sugar levels, arises as a result of this. Insulin resistance is a condition in which your body is unable to respond to the quantity of insulin it produces. Prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes are connected to insulin resistance (NIH, 2021).
Many studies show that what we eat affects our ability to think and remember as we become older. Years before the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s arise, changes in the brain might develop. Junk food consumption has an impact on molecular systems involved in Alzheimer’s disease, including inflammation and oxidative stress. Junk foods indirectly enhance other Alzheimer’s risk factors like obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Alzheimer’s disease is a brain metabolic disease that cannot be reversed, a degenerative brain disease that gradually erodes memory and thinking skills, as well as the capacity to do even the most basic tasks (NIH, 2019).
Junk foods contain excess calories, fast-food meals with too many calories might lead to weight gain. Obesity may result as a result of this. Obesity increases the risk of respiratory problems such as asthma and shortness of breath. The extra pounds can put pressure on the heart and lungs, causing symptoms to appear even when you’re not doing much. When one is walking, climbing stairs, or exercising, one can have trouble breathing. Respiratory disorders are especially dangerous for children. Studies showed that children who eat junk foods or fast foods at least three times a week are at risk or more likely to acquire asthma. (Heathline, 2018).
People who consume the most junk food had a higher chance of respiratory tract (mouth, lips, nose, throat, tongue, vocal cords, and oesophagus and windpipe), colorectal and stomach cancers, according to a study. People who eat junk food are more likely to be overweight or inactive, both of which are connected to cancer. “A poorer inherent nutritional quality of food ingested is related with a higher risk of acquiring cancer,” researchers concluded (CNN, 2018).
To summarize, junk food has become an inextricable part of life in both developed and developing countries, resulting in a large increase in obesity and associated problems. When it comes to eating these unhealthy foods, moderation is crucial. It is entirely up to us to choose between junk food and good health.
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Anderson J. W. and Patterson K. Snack foods: comparing nutrition values of excellent choices and “junk foods”. J Am Coll Nutr 2005 ; 24:155-6.
Fister K. Junk food advertising contributes to young Americans’ obesity. BMJ 2005; 331: 1426.
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Smith Andrew F. (5 September 2000). Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food. Greenwood Press. p. x.
Solomons N. W., Gross R. Urban nutrition in developing countries. Nutr Rev 1995; 53: 90.
CNN health 2018, assessed 25 January 2022, <https://edition.cnn.com/2018/09/18/health/junk-food-nutri-score-study/index.html>
Healthline 2018, assessed 25 January 2022, <https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-food-effects-on-body
NIA National institute of ageing, 2019, assessed 25 January 2022, <https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-do-we-know-about-diet-and-prevention-alzheimers-disease>