Fast food is high in calories, filled with fat, salt, sugar and cholesterol. While a home-cooked meal may contain beneficial vegetables, carbohydrates and protein, fast food is not prepared with vitamins and minerals in mind. Without necessary nutrients, fast food has adverse effects on both a person’s physical and mental well-being.
According to the San Francisco Gate, a July 2009 journal found that “the average fast food lunch in New York totaled 827 calories.” With the average adult woman needing 1,600 to 2,400 calories a day, and the average adult man requiring 2,000 to 3,000, a lunch of 827 calories takes up an over-sized portion of what a person needs. When a single meal contains such a large calorie intake, and there are three recommended meals for the day, an individual is at risk of consuming excess calories. When a person consumes more calories than necessary it results in increased weight gain and consequently, numerous health problems.
The levels of severe obesity in the U.S. are often viewed as a direct result of fast food consumption. However, fast food can result in much more than weight gain. Eating fast food regularly leads to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and liver damage. According to Wonderslist, those who eat fast food four or more times a week are 80% more likely to die from heart disease.
The harmful effects of fast food extend into one’s mental state as well. According to Public Health Nutrition, “compared to people who eat little to no fast food, people who regularly eat fast food are 51 percent more likely to develop depression.” Researchers have also found that fast food can be addictive for some consumers.
So, what can be done to avoid the fast food lifestyle and the problems it creates? Firstly, integrating more healthy foods into your diet, like fruits, vegetables and nuts, can satisfy one’s need for a snack without requiring a trip to the drive-thru. Although eating fast food every once in a while may not cause as much harm, fatty foods should still be eaten in small proportions. Being aware of the meal size, calorie-intake and deficient nutritious value of fast food is important. By being more cognizant, fast food consumption can be better regulated. According to the Huffington Post, a person’s artery function can decline after consuming just one fast food meal.
By Brittany Nieves
Live Strong: www.livestrong.com/
SF Gate: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/
Wonders List: www.wonderslist.com/
Fit Day: www.fitday.com/
Huffington Post: www.huffingtonpost.com/