Fast Foods in Nut Shell

Authored By Mr. Michael F. Jacobson And Mr. Sarah Fritschner


In 1955 United States of America came up with the new concept of fast-food restaurants. These restaurants were very well accepted by the people and soon became a part of their life leading to a change in their dietary habits.

People growing up on fast-foods have adopted the practice called "grazing" or "eating" in small amounts of foods all through the day rather than eating at three or four designated times. The fast-food meals usually cost more than double than the routine food coked at home.

Fast-food chains target teens i.e. the population in the age group of 10 to 20 years thus the fast-foods have become their obvious choice, Most of the time children eat out, they do so at these outlets.

Eating more of fast-food reduces the variety in the diets and may increase the risk if nutrition deficiencies. The common nutrient that are deficient are vitamin A, vitamin C and several B vitamins. These meals also lack fiber.

Another major disadvantage of fast-food served in these outlets is the high content of fat and sugar. Burgers, whole milk, cheese, ice-cream, etc. are major sources of fat. Anyone who eats rich, fatty food from childhood through adulthood stands a high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. High fat diet complicates existing diabetes. The fast-foods have also been implicated in several forms of cancer. Population studies have shown association between dietary fat and occurrence of cancer especially that of the breast, prostrate and large bowel.

Fast-food companies believe that their food sells better when they add sugar to improve the taste or appearance. Sugar adds calories, or it replaces more nutritious food constituents. Researchers in 1990 discovered that the high sugar content increase in adrenalin levels leading to anxiety and difficulty in concentrating.

Salt is another primary taste sensation associated with fast-food but unfortunately linked to serious health problems. Most of our dietary sodium comes from table salt (sodium chloride). A great deal of research supports the relationship between high sodium diets and hypertension.

Vitamin A and C, calcium and iron are usually low in fast-foods. Vitamin A is well known for its role in the light-detection mechanism in the retina of the eye.

It also may help prevent cancer. Salad-bars are the only place to get enough B-carotene (Pro vitamin A). Vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy diseases of blood. Some restaurants have fruit juices to offer as a vitamin C rich item but mostly they are lased with chemical preservatives.

Calcium is abundant in milk. Milkshakes are offered by these restaurants but teens usually prefer soft drinks over milkshakes. Calcium is necessary for muscle contraction, for blood coagulation and of course for bones and teeth.

Fiber is restricted usually to salad bars offered only by select fast-food restaurants. Low fiber diets can result in diseases such as diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, hiatus hernia, appendicitis, varicose veins and gallstones. Dietary fiber is also said to play a vital role in controlling diabetes, decreasing the chances of heart diseases and certain cancers like that of colon.

Many fast-foods contain a wide variety of chemical additives. The additives preserve, emulsify, colour, and enhance the products to ensure uniformity, taste and profitability. These chemicals can however be hazardous. Aspartames can pose risk to fetuses of pregnant mothers or cause altered brain function. BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) added in oils is said to be a carcinogen. BHT (butylated hyrdroxytoluence) another oil additive also increases the risk of cancer. Sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate used to preserve meat products also pose a risk to cancer.

It will take years for health-oriented individuals to persuade fast-food restaurant groups to introduce nutritionally balanced fast-foods.



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