Adults and children nowadays eat fast food without knowing its effects on the body and general health, therefore we shall realize the nutritional value of what we eat in order to understand whether we need it or not.
In that paper I will talk about junk food discussing its history, reasons of rapid spread all around the world, its harmful effects, and the possible solution for that problem.
Fast food (Junk food) refers to food that is easily and quickly prepared, however, it refers mainly to the food that is prepared from precooked or preheated ingredients then packed and sold in stores or restaurants. In 1951 the word “Fast food” was first introduced in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Junk or fast foods taste good and are rich in calories but they are of a very low nutritional value, Fast foods are usually rich in sugar, rich in fats or rich in salt.
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There are many examples of junk food such as Pizza, French Fries, Burgers, hotdogs, fried food, candy, ice cream, and soda pop. Other kinds of junk food are just like the imitation juice that you find nowadays in most of the markets, you may think it is healthy but the truth is that it has loads and loads of sugar, artificial flavors, and so little of the pure natural juice.
Fast food has appeared in the world during Ancient Rome age, they sold wine and bread in the streets of the cities, also in the Far East noodles were prepared and sold while in the Middle East there were the flafel and the flatbread, Indians introduced dahi vada, vada pav, and panipuri.
Although fast food is tasty and delicious, it has many disadvantages, people must nowadays be aware of those disadvantages, fast food has real damage on the human health, and the most important bad effects that the fast food may cause are obesity, high cholesterol level, cardiovascular disorders, and nutritional deficiencies. Actually fast food may not contain any nutritional benefits to the body because it usually contains harmful fats, carbohydrates, and cholesterol that don’t provide the body with any useful energy.
Consuming fast food is increasing in a very rapid way nowadays and that increase is cause mainly by 3 main reasons which are:
Convenience: Since it is fast and we live our lives in a hurry nowadays, there is no time to prepare healthy and well prepared food.
Ads: Advertisement is the Fast Food marketers’ weapon; they use anything possible to advertise including TV commercials, Radio stations, vending machines and internet pop-ups.
Lack of discipline: and that is another important reason, and may be the most important one but I will talk about it in details later.
Fast food is a real problem that has many horrible and sometimes fatal effects on people especially youth and children, in that paper I will discuss in details the effects of junk food on the individual, the society and the world. And I will also talk about the possible solutions for that problem.
The Junk food planet:
People around the world are of different races, languages, borders, and religions; however, they may have the same problems, views, and tastes. Media devices have helped in uniting those things; it made the world as if it is just one small village. Our ancestors used to respect their planet, they took care of their health, and on the other hand we looked for Fast food.
Nowadays everyone eats fast food, especially the new generation that loves and eats only the fast food. A lot of parents all around the world may give their kids sugary fast food in order to be hyperactive, and afterwards, their children complain and feel sick, therefore they take their children to doctors who will prescribe some medications that will cure the symptom not the cause, despite of not being in need to those medications if they just changed their diet.
Reasons of the increased consumption of junk food:
There are many reasons beyond the increased consumption of fast food around the world, the most common reasons are:
You wake up early in the morning with very little or no energy, even if you slept for the regular eight hours, you will still feel tired, you find no time to make breakfast then you say to yourself that you will just get something on your way to work, you stop by any supermarket and buy some doughnuts and a soft drink (e.g. Soda), you believe that the sugar in those products will give you power and energy, you work for about eight hours and then you find yourself hungry again, you are so tired, you don’t want to bother yourself by making lunch so you order junk food again. In general, nowadays we live a very fast life; you have no time to cook healthy food so you choose the easier way which is the junk food even if it was lower in its nutritional value.
Marketers of the junk food use every possible way to advertise, they use TV, Radio, and internet. Television is known to have a very powerful effect on people; therefore marketers use advertisements that reach the mind of a lot of consumers, because advertisements wash away our fears and suspects and give us another beautiful image and that is just what the marketers want.
Most of the advertisements aim for the children, and it was reported food ads that appear during children’s T.V. programs are 25%, in India they are approximately 50% while in Pakistan they are 75%.
Since 1980 there was an obvious increase in the children’s advertisements, they were used not only to affect the children then but to increase the future fast food consumption also; they targeted children because they know the influence that children may have on their parents, and to create loyal future consumers.
Fast food marketers would do anything and would pay huge amounts of money in advertising especially for the children including games, contests and toys; they use cartoon and comics to advertise. For example, Burger King was the first to give the children free toys with their meals, in 1999 it was reported that Burger King featured more than 50,000,000 toys. The Sales of Burger King in the USA were doubled that year.
Marketer used everything; they used movie stars, sports famous players, and pop singers. Pepsi used Pink, Britney Spears and Beyonce Knowles, while McDonald’s used Justin Timberlake in their latest campaign “I’m lovin’ it” they offered him $6,000,000.
In conclusion, children are very important customers in the market because of the great effect they have on their parents, in the past mothers were more powerful than the market power, but those days are gone nowadays, it was reported that most of parents nowadays were influenced by their children mainly in their marketing decisions especially when it is related to food, therefore marketers need only to persuade the children, and wait for them to convince their parents.
Lack of discipline:
Nowadays, the new generation has a very weak personality, they didn’t suffer the fears of wars, they have everything easy and available, thus they have no inner strength, they don’t understand the value of life or health, they may know the consequences of eating a lot of fast food, and nevertheless they buy it because of lacking of discipline.
Parents also became very weak; they try to be more friendly with their children, so they respond to every single demand, they feed them according to their desire not what is healthier for them and for their bodies.
Effects of Junk food on health:
Junk food has many bad effects on health, they include:
Effects on blood pressure:
Fast food contains high amounts of Na++ (Sodium) that lead to high blood pressure, it was stated that the adult’s body require only 1200-1500 milligram of sodium every day, so when you realize that the normal table salt contains about forty per cent sodium and that a teaspoon of salt may contain about 2400 milligram of sodium, and that high amounts of sodium leads certainly to high blood pressure, you will realize what risks fast food may lead to.
Junk food that contains meat contains bad cholesterol that has dangerous effects on the human body and general health, the accumulation of cholesterol molecules in arteries will result in their thickening and clogging that will in return result in congestion of blood vessels and will obstruct the normal blood flow which will lead to disorders in the blood pressure, and if the artery affected was one of those that carry blood to the heart, it will may lead to a heart attack, and in complicated cases it may cause heart failure.
Trans fats are considered to be the worst type of fats, and it is present in Junk food with high amounts, trans fat is very harmful because it reduces the levels of good cholesterol in addition to increasing the levels of bad cholesterol. It was reported that fast food contains 45 per cent of trans fats more than normal and well prepared food.
Effects on the cardiovascular system and vascular function:
About 40 per cent of children and 37 per cent of adults depend mainly on junk food in their lives, they have higher levels of fats, saturated fats, energy, soda drinks, and sodium, and on the other hand lower intake of milk, vegetables, fruit and essential vitamins such as C and A. Fast food consumption was proved to have bad effects on the CVS (Cardio Vascular System) in general because fast food lead to gaining weight and insulin resistance, and on the long term fast food causes disorders in the endothelial functions and marked increase in the oxidative stress, and as a further complication, both oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction develop atherosclerosis, and this may end in cardiovascular failure and death.
On the other hand well prepared meals such as the Mediterranean or the vegetarian food contain low unsaturated fats and higher content of vitamins therefore it may be considered a protective diet, for example when you take high doses of antioxidant vitamins (C&E) they will prevent endothelial dysfunction.
It was stated by the Worldwatch Institute that the number of adults that have obesity nowadays are the same number of those who suffer from underweight.
Children obesity has become epidemic in many countries, there are more than 17,000,000 children that are 5 years old suffer from obesity all around the world.
Obesity causes many health complications, it causes both psychological and physical disorders, the prognosis is very poor with possible subsequent cardiovascular diseases, some kinds of cancer, and premature death.
Effects on energy:
Fast food doesn’t contain any or very low nutritional components, on the contrary, it is composed of harmful fats, cholesterol, and carbohydrates, therefore it doesn’t provide your body with any energy, and body weakness.
Fast food contains high levels of fat and oil that are difficult to be digested, so the body spends more amounts of enzymes and blood. That means that when you eat a lot of junk food, blood goes mainly you the intestine, therefore you may feel drowsy and lose concentration.
Liver may get damaged due to the high amounts of salt, cholesterol, and fat that are present in most of the junk food.
Fast food may cause damage to pancreas and that may lead to insulin dependent diabetes mellitus.
Junk food and the children of Egypt:
In Egypt mothers chose the easiest way to feed their children nowadays, they feed their own kids pizza and soda without knowing that this junk food is very harmful for them, it was reported by a physician at el Qasr Al-Aini hospital that about 7 kids were being treated from apnea in just 3 months, Apnea is a sleeping disorder that happens when fats block the pulmonary air paths, that means that those kids were choking by their own fat.
Children of Egypt today drink soda more than milk, and it was reported that 10% of male teenagers from thirteen to eighteen years old drink about 7 cans of soda daily, while 10% of the females may drink about 5 daily, however, soda has horrible effects on the body where it causes bone weakness and osteoporosis.
Ban junk food advertising for kids under twelve years old. (Sweden has done this already, so it is possible)
Decrease the number of the fast food advertisements during the kids shows and programmes.(South Korea limited the Ads number to 10%)
Health messages in kids shows and Ads
Eat well prepared home-made food.
Avoid junk food specially
Chocolates and candies
Junk food consumption has increased nowadays; both developing and developed countries suffer from this problem.
The main reason for the increased consumption of fast food especially among our kids is the advertisements; however, we bear high responsibility also, because we let them eat what they want to eat with no restrictions even if it was harmful for their health and bodies.
Fast food has many horrible effects on the human body such as weakness, loss of energy, loss of concentration, obesity, cardiovascular disorders, osteoporosis, diabetes mellitus, apnea, liver diseases, and high blood pressure
Children in Egypt today depend on junk food as their main source of nutrition, and that must be prevented by the parents and shown in the children programmes if we want to get a healthy and a strong new generation.
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