Fast Food And Obesity Important Fast Food Facts

Most people know that traditional fast food menu items aren’t optimal if you’re aiming for a healthy diet. But as most of us are aware, when we select one kind of food over another, nutrition isn’t always at the top of our list of priorities. Other factors can play a role as well, such as cost and convenience. Learn important fast food facts, including the link between fast food and obesity.

Fast Food and Obesity

Even though studies show a strong link between fast food and obesity, and even though we know that fast food is low in nutritional value and high in calories, we still make this choice sometimes.

Every now and then, we don’t even have time to get out of our cars, much less buy green leafy vegetables and cook them at home. The pressure of our schedules often comes first, and health, fitness and even the pleasure we derive from eating (because sometimes fast food doesn’t even taste very good), take second place.

While small amounts of fast food now and then can’t hurt us much, making it a consistent part of our diet can increase the risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Fast Food Facts

So, why do we eat fast food? First of all, it’s cheap. Most fast food items are corn-based and mass-produced before they’re shipped to franchises around the country to be thawed, heated and assembled with minimal labor. For the first time in American history, poverty is now associated with obesity, which was once a condition linked to wealth. This is believed to have resulted, at least partially, from the low cost of high-calorie fast food.

Second, fast food is tasty. But is it really? After years of research, food manufacturers and marketers have learned to lure customers with predictability rather than with actual flavor. When most people buy a cheeseburger, they’re paying for a product that they’re used to.

But what does this mean exactly? Flavors can be simulated and low expectations met by adding high amounts of fat and high fructose corn syrup. The next time you eat a fast food cheeseburger, think about it for a minute. Is it actually delicious? How do you feel after eating it?

Does Healthy Fast Food Exist?

Increasingly, more restaurants are offering “healthy” fast food options, benefiting health conscious customers, as well as franchises that would otherwise lose their appeal to customers who make choices based on health.

Even though many restaurants now offer healthy fast food like salads, apple slices and milk, be sure you know what you’re eating. Are their health claims true? After checking the nutrition information, you may find that whole milk (rather than skim), condiments (made with high fructose corn syrup) and salad dressings all contain hidden sources of fat and calories. Even when you choose “healthy” fast food, choose water over soda and monitor your portion sizes.

Resources

Health Food Guide. (2010). Fast food effects on health. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from http://healthfood-guide.com/fastfood.aspx

Help Guide. (2010). Healthy fast food: Tips for making healthier food choices. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from http://www.helpguide.org/life/fast_food_nutrition.htm