Food is a fundamental requirement of our bodies that has a direct effect on how we feel and the general health of the body. It is an essential need that all living organisms require for manufacturing fuel for all body processes. However, in busy communities, fast foods are increasingly being the preferred choice of food because of their price and convenience and that is why they are commonly served in many hotels, cafes and even some restaurants located in our neighborhoods. The business community is aiming at making these franchises more strategically accessible through opening more and more fast food restaurants to respond to the increasing demand of busy people (Edelstein 85).
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The success of this business accounts for its ability to offer customers a quick, cheap, convenient and delicious food which is unfortunately characterized by high contents of salt, fat and in most cases low nutrient value. Unhealthy foods like these are possible health threats. Frequent consumption of fast foods that have low nutrient value, high fat and calories pose a serious health risk which results in such health problems as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions (Barkley and Barkley 52-53).
In this Millenium, one of the biggest health threats is overweight. Obesity is responsible for an increase in cholesterol and fatty health conditions, which leads to a high occurrence of heart related diseases. Researchers have found that fast food significantly contributes to a higher level of fat and sodium allowed (Johansen 23). Therefore, frequent consumption of diets high in fats and combined with a reduction in physical activity present a significant contribution to obesity among different age groups today. Children often prefer these high-fat foods that in turn displace nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains (Johansen 52).
Research also shows that fatty diets lack carbohydrates and, therefore, low in fiber content that has lower cholesterol levels and improved digestive effect. The increase in consumption of these fast foods is due to their excellent taste. It makes obesity a greater threat today that needs greater attention if we are to address its effects.
Increase in body weight also results in an increase in respiratory problems. Weight gain leads to a decrease in the volume of the lungs that enable respiration. Many obese individuals face a problem of breathlessness on exertion. This leads to adverse respiratory health conditions that include asthma, pulmonary embolism and aspiration pneumonia.
Scientists explain that fast food meals which have high contents of salt directly affect blood pressure, lead to stroke and kidney disease (Donkersloot 124-130). Furthermore, research shows that calcium competes with sodium. This competition means that the intake of sodium is inversely proportional to calcium intake. The increase in excretion of calcium is responsible for a reduction in peak bone mass and a related increase in low mineralization of bones.
This factor leads to increase in osteoporosis and bone fractures among women and developing children. The health limit for sodium intake is 2,200mg. However, a meal of McDonald’s fry has 290mg making it possible to exceed half the required daily intake in one meal. Similarly, the recommended limit for daily calcium intake is 800mg per day, though the average consumption by women who eat fast food is less than 600mg per day. This statistics presents a need for health food alternatives to address negative issues related to salt intake due to fast food consumption.
Frequent eating of fast foods is related to insulin issues and type 2 diabetes. People who regularly consume fast foods up to three times a week have increased body weight, and this increases insulin resistance. Insulin resistance leads to hypertension, dyslipidemia, and cardiovascular infections that threaten life today. Insulin resistance is also responsible for a global menace of diabetes that has doubled in the last ten years. Fast food diets are also high in fat and low in fruit and/or vegetables (Wolin 49). Fruits and vegetables are useful in balancing fats in blood vessels. Research links high fat to blood pressure and shows that blood vessels function abnormally after eating fat diets that may adversely affect some people with coronary diseases.
Another significant health effect associated with fast foods is depression. Recent research has linked fast foods to depression. Documents show that people who regularly consume fast foods are 51 percent more likely to develop depression than those who do not frequent fast food consumption (Plataforma SINC).
It appears that fast foods are a temptation because of convincing in location, price and taste. However, as parents and educators, it is important to educate children and the general public about fast foods and the negative health impact of regular consumption of the diet. Edelstein explains “many eating habits begin during childhood, parents and educators should discourage the use of fast foods when rewarding children and make health feeding education a choice” (89). However, encouraging healthy feeding practices that promote balanced diet will help in solving issues of poor nutrition due to high fat and related problems from fast foods.
Barkley, Andrew and Paul W. Barkley. Depolarizing Food and Agriculture: An Economic Approach. London: Routledge, 2015. Print.
Donkersloot, Mary. “Fast food ratings.” The Fast-Food Diet: Quick and Healthy Eating at Home and on the Go. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992. Print.
Edelstein, Sari. Nutrition in Public Health: A Handbook for Developing Programs and Services. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2011. Print
Johansen, Lisa T. M. S. R. D. Fast Food Vindication: The Story You Haven’t Been Told. Los Angeles, CA: J. Murray Press, 2012. Print.
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Plataforma SINC. “Link between fast food and depression confirmed.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily. 2012. Web.
Wolin, Kathleen Y, and Jennifer M. Petrelli. Obesity. Santa Barbara, Calif: Greenwood Press, 2009. Print.