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Health hazards of fast food

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Fast Food, Junk Food, Unhealthy food,Fast food is popular because the food is inexpensive, convenient, and tastes good. However, fast food is often made with cheaper ingredients such as high fat meat, refined grains, and added sugar and fats, instead of nutritious ingredients such as lean meats, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. Manufacturers process the raw ingredients, often adding hydrogenated oils, trans-fats and mono sodium glutamate to enhance taste and prolong the shelf life of the product. A high intake of trans-fat can raise low-density cholesterol levels and increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. Foods commonly considered junk foods include salted snack foods, gum, candy, sweet desserts, fried fast food, and sugary carbonated beverages. Many foods such as hamburgers, pizza, and tacos can be considered either healthy or junk food depending on their ingredients and preparation methods.

Processed foods do tend to be less expensive than most fresh foods. In part, they’re that cheap because the U.S. government subsidizes the producers of corn and wheat, the main ingredients in those packaged snacks, which helps keep crop prices low. We crave unhealthy foods because they contain lots of sugar and artificial additives, which taste delicious, and therefore trigger the release of certain pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters. Furthermore, we are evolutionarily programmed to eat a lot more than we need, so that makes it even worse.

Obesity is becoming an epidemic and unhealthy lifestyle habits of youngsters are making them the biggest victims of lifestyle diseases resulting in rising incidence of juvenile obesity, said a survey conducted by a health care firm. The survey noted that at least 40% of children (aged 5-9 years), teenagers (aged 10-14 years) and adolescents (aged 15-17 years) are overweight or obese. The study also delves into insights from around 1,000 parents of overweight and obese children and adolescents, which reveals that 84% of girls and 82% of boys are physically and emotionally affected by weight issues.

Large intake of low nutrition but high-calorie foods, high frequency of eating out and large portion sizes are unhealthy lifestyle choices being made by youngsters in Delhi, noted the survey. It added that these poor eating habits eventually manifest into a full-fledged eating disorders. Parents of obese children agreed that they are very impressionable and get influenced by a lot of things. On the one hand, parents are using food as reward/means to distract children; and on the other, peer pressure, social media and advertising, academic stress and mood swings play havoc with their eating choices. Emotional eating and binge eating are hence becoming very common among young children.

Youngsters are sleeping late and often resort to midnight eating. They do not burn any calories after eating late at night as they sleep after wards. During the day, they are lethargic and thus burn less calories. Bad eating habits can cause sleeping disorders, depression, stress, anxiety and hormonal imbalance. Stress hormones and steroids production can increase appetite thus contributing to weight gain. Processed junk food has been steadily filling the lunch boxes of many school children. Although nutritionists and paediatricians have been warning parents about the ill effects of processed food and why it should not become a habit, indulgent or harried parents reach for that carton or packet as it saves time on manic weekdays. The trick is to see that the child gets enough of carbs, proteins and vitamins. There is no need to stuff the child but she must be eating healthy.

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)Help Parallel Media, Support Journalism, Free Press, Afternoon Voice

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