How fast Food has negatively affected human health in last few decades


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The Standard American Diet today is filled with high fats and empty calories. A big number of health professionals have expressed their concerns over the effects of fast food and its connections with numerous health conditions including obesity and heart disease.

However, an increasing number of fast food chains have added healthier options in their menus. Has this made any significant changes? A new study shows otherwise.

According to the official statistics by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, 36.6 percent of the average American people consumed fast food items almost every other day. Such habits are not confined to the adult population.

Another study conducted by University of Connecticut researchers from the year 2018 revealed that 74 percent of the parents mostly bought unhealthy foods and snacks for their children while dining out as well as generally.

Researchers have noted that such incidents are prevalent regardless of the fact the many of the popular food chains and well-known brands endorsed the healthy stance in 2013 and introduced many alternative and better options to their normal food items.

Recent research shows that such alterations may not have made any difference at all and the alternative options may be equally harmful. The findings of the study are published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Read the study here. 

How Was the Research Conducted? 

To conduct the study, the researchers looked at portions size, nutrition offered, and the variety of entrées, sides, and desserts in the menus of ten of the most popular chain restaurants in the United State.

The team observed almost three decades, specifically focusing on three menus that were updated and made available in the years 1986, 1991, and 2016. Fast food chains that were in the list include Jack in the box, Arby’s, Carl’s Jr., Dairy Queen, Hardee’s, KFC, Long John Silver’s, Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s.

The researchers explain the reason for choosing these restaurants particularly, saying:

“These restaurants were chosen because the nutritional information on the key nutritional variables of portion size, energy, and sodium was available for each of the 3 years being analyzed.”

Data for the study was obtained through various online sources as well as The Fast-Food Guide from the years 1991 and 1986.

Using this data, the investigators firstly looked at the variety of fast food which seems to go up almost 226% per year. However, with more choices, the portion and the caloric content of the food also increased.

The food with the highest increase in calories was desserts. They went up 62 kilocalories every 10 years followed by entrées with 30 kilocalories per decade. Similarly, the salt or sodium content also went up with others in the foods.

What Is the Conclusion? 

The research provides an overall analysis of the effects on fast food in modern day life. In addition, it also potentially explains the link between common diets and the rise of obesity. The investigators say:

“Despite the vast number of choices offered at fast-food restaurants, some of which are healthier than others, the calories, portion sizes, and sodium content overall have worsened (increased) over time and remain high.”

Along with the negative effects, the team also noted some positive things such as the increase in iron content in desserts and sodium in some foods. Both are essential nutrients for health.

However, consuming fast food for these two should be the last options as the negative effects heavily outweigh the positive. Instead, the researchers suggest that there is a need to introduce ways in which people can cut down fast food from their diet.

For example, adding the caloric content next to foods is a good beginning. Steps such as these will help people keep unhealthy foods out of their diet as well as control the growing obesity epidemic in the US and the world in general.

 


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Hilary Jensen

Hilary is a Literature graduate with expertise in Creative Writing. Her writing interests are mental health, ethics, and news reporting. You will find her work associated with relevant research and references that shows her passion for delivering authentic information to readers.

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