The Major Health Hazards of Fast Food

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Eating fast food is popular today as it becomes harder to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Life keeps people busy, so you may not have time to cook. But, eating too much fast food can affect your health by increasing your risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, or heart disease. Read on to discover some health hazards of fast food.

What Is Fast Food?

Fast food is designed to be delivered to you quickly, hence the name fast food. This article focuses on fast food in general and on those fast foods you usually eat at McDonald’s or KFC.

Because fast food is readily available and cheap, it’s hard to resist. Today, some people may crave the taste of their favorite fast food, which makes it even harder to withstand. Regrettably, most fast foods are the unhealthiest options for your diet.

What Are the Downsides of Fast Food?

Fast foods generally have low nutritional value. This means they are low in vitamins, minerals, and fiber while high in calories, fats, sugars, and sodium (salt). Regular consumption of fast food increases the risk of several health problems: 

  • Type 2 Diabetes: Fast food can cause insulin resistance, increasing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Headaches and migraines: High sodium content in fast food can trigger headaches or migraines.
  • Weight Gain: Fast food may lead to weight gain because the nutritional value of fast food is low, and the calories are very high.
  • Acne: Fast food items high in carbs, sugars, and fats can cause an acne breakout.
  • Increase blood pressure: High sodium levels in fast food can lead to increased blood pressure — and high blood pressure is the leading risk factor for stroke. Most adults should keep their salt intake under 1500 milligrams per day.
  • Heart problems: An unhealthy diet is a common cause of heart problems. Fried fast foods are filled with trans fats, which raise the LDL cholesterol levels associated with heart problems.
  • Cancer: Eating an unhealthy diet has been linked to some forms of cancer.
  • Mood changes: Eating a lot of fast food may be related to an increased risk of depression and anxiety because it is low in essential nutrients.
  • Dental cavities: High sugar levels in fast foods may lead to cavities.

Tips When Ordering Fast Food

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Eating fast food every once in a while is not a problem if you don’t make it a habit. Try to cook more often with fresh foods. But, if you are ordering fast food, here are a few tips to make healthier decisions:

  • Don’t be tricked by calorie-friendly salads. Salads can be health hazards if paired with a high fat, high sugar, and high sodium dressing. Salads can also be health hazards if they include other foods on the menu like fried chicken, cheese, and bacon. 
  • Avoid increasing your portion size. Many fast food restaurants offer to make your food order larger for a slightly higher price to encourage you to purchase more. But even the smallest size is more than enough on its own. For example, most small drinks are already enough for two servings at 16-to-20 ounces.
  • Know the nutritional facts. Before you visit a fast food restaurant, look up nutritional information about your favorite burgers on websites like CalorieKing. Knowing the calorie and nutritional facts may help you make healthier choices when ordering. For example, ordering a large portion of fries has three times the calories of a small.

Resource Links

  1. “The Hidden Dangers of Fast and Processed Food” via American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
  2. “‘Determinants of takeaway and fast food consumption: a narrative review” via Nutrition Research Reviews
  3. “Ultra-Processed Foods and Health Outcomes: A Narrative Review” via Nutrients
  4. “Here’s How Fast Food Can Affect Your Body” via Cleveland Clinic