Fast food is the term given to food that can be prepared and served very quickly. While any meal with low preparation time can be considered to be fast food, typically the term refers to food sold in a restaurant or store with low quality preparation and served to the customer in a packaged form for take- out /take away.
Fast food outlets are take-away or take-out providers, often with a "drive-through" service which allows customers to order and pick up food from their cars; but most also have a seating area in which customers can eat the food on the premises.
Nearly from its inception, fast food has been designed to be eaten "on the go", often does not require traditional cutlery, and is eaten as a finger food. Common menu items at fast food outlets include chips,sandwiches, hamburgers, fried chicken, French fries, chicken nuggets, pizza, hot dogs, and ice cream.
Fast-Food is becoming more and more acceptable and convenient in our society. With our daily busy schedules, many just don't have time to prepare the food at home or go out to eat at a restaurant. Fast-food restaurants also offer low price, variety and predictability .
Today, more than 60% of the population in the West is considered obese. This is because they are eating more processed and fast food than ever. The foods served at all fast-food joints contain high quantity of fats and sugars. Having an excess amount of fats and sugars is not good for the body. Not only are they unhealthy but they are also known to be very addictive; causing people to choose fast-foods over healthier diet. Marketing and advertising have also been boosting the sales of fast food to a considerable rate. Kids are begging their parents to take them to eat the delicious looking burger being promoted on the bulletin board in front of shopping malls.
The average adult is supposed to consume approximately 2000 calories a day. This item is nearly half, and most fast food meals would include fries and a drink, which would up the calorie count significantly.
Everyday 1 in 3 American youth eat fast food.
It has been estimated that 15% of American youth are obese.
Obesity is responsible for 300,000 deaths and $100,000,000,000 in annual health care costs. There was more money spent on fast food than education, computers, and cars. People who eat fast food twice a week gain an extra 10 pounds, rather than someone who consumes fast food just once a week.
People are increasingly being warned against the ill effects of fast food and the potential damage they pose to the human health. The effects of fast food include nutritional deficiencies, obesity, increased cholesterol levels, cardiac problems and many other threatening heath hazards.
Effects of Fast Food: Sodium and Increased Blood Pressure
Most of these quick and convenient meals contain high amount of sodium, which increases and aggravates the risks of high blood pressure. According to the recommendations of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences 1,200 - 1,500 mg of sodium is the daily sodium requirement for adults. Keeping these figures in mind, you should also know that the regular table salt that we consume contains 40% sodium and a single teaspoon of table salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium. Although the body requires minimum quantities of sodium, too much sodium contributes to high blood pressure. Sodium can also lead to building-up of fluids in case of people who are suffering with congestive heart failure, cirrhosis, or kidney disease.
Effects of Cholesterol Cholesterol in meat-containing fast food is very dangerous for the health. Meat contains cholesterol and hence leads to the accumulation of bad cholesterol in the body. Cholesterol molecules can accumulate in the arteries and lead to clogging or thickening of the arteries. Thickening or clogging of arteries can lead to an obstructed blood flow and affect the blood pressure. In case the artery, which carries blood to the heart, gets clogged, it can result in heart attack or even heart failure in extreme cases where blood flow is completely obstructed.
Dealing with Trans Fat Trans fat, which is infamous as the worst type of fat, is found abundantly in various fast foods. Trans fat is considered as the most harmful type of fat because it not only increases the ‘bad cholesterol’ (low density lipoprotein) levels but also reduces the ‘good cholesterol’ (High density lipoprotein) levels. Trans fat is a commonly found ingredient in all the processed foods. Foods that contain artificial trans fats contain up to 45% more trans fat as compared to their natural fat counterparts.
Eating fast food and leading a sedentary lifestyle leads to obesity. Obesity leads to other complications like increase in the cholesterol level, blocking of the arteries, the increased risk of coronary diseases, in addition to the general physical discomfort posed by the extra weight. Fast food is also addictive and hence it is very difficult to give up on their greasy and fatty foods and carbonated drinks and switch to healthier options.
The situation is worse in case of children who from a very young age get hooked on fast food. Making them change their food habits from fatty and sweet foods and develop a taste for health-promoting fruits and vegetables is a task easier said than done. Such children would grow up to be obese adults who have never felt the advantages of being a healthy weight .
When looking at today's fast food calories and nutritional values it's no wonder then that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a report on away-from-home foods, with recommendations on how restaurants and carry-out chains can help prevent overweight and obesity.
These recommendations include:
Increase the availability of lower-calorie products, menu items and meals.
Shift the emphasis of marketing. The marketing of lower-calorie and less-calorie-dense food should increase accompanied by a reduction in marketing that highlights higher-calorie (or calorie-dense) foods or encourages large portions.
Strengthen and/or create education and promotion programs regarding away-from-home foods that promote the consumption of fruits, vegetables, no- and low-fat milk and milk products, whole grains, and foods low in saturated fats and trans-fatty acids.
Away-from-home food establishments should provide consumers with calorie information in a standard format that is easily accessible and easy to use.
RECENT ISSUES REGARDING THE SOFT DRINK CONSUMPTION IN SCHOOLS OF INDIA
There is now a growing body of opinion against soft drinks in particular and fast food in general being marketed to children through the media and directly in schools. A number of private schools in Mumbai have already stopped sales of colas in their canteens.
24 May 2006 - One may or may not agree with the recent criticism of Aamir Khan for promoting colas, but the fact remains that there is now a growing body of opinion against such heavily sweetened fizzy drinks in particular and fast food in general.
In March, the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a ban on the sale of all soft drinks within school premises.
A burger obtained from a fast-food restaurant is healthy because it balances meat, bread and lettuce!
Partly True - Most burgers and almost everything else served at fast-food restaurants are very high in fats, calories, and sodium as well. In fact, a large burger, medium-package fries and a small vanilla milkshake can contain up to 1200 calories. This can be an acceptable diet for active, sporty people. However, it is not recommended to be eaten daily!
If a label says "low fat" or "reduced fat", then the product will be a healthy choice……. False - A product must have 25% less fat then the original product for it to be deemed as having "reduced fat". However these types of products tend to be "high in fat and energy in the first place", therefore the "reduced" version may still have high amounts of fat and energy. For example, a normal butter product may have 20 grams of fat. A "reduced fat" version can contains15 grams! Fat-free foods can contain no more than 0.5 grams of fat per serving. Low-fat foods may contain 3 grams of fat or less per serving.
False - Some people may believe that eating fat-free foods (e.g. cookies and soft drinks) will not make them gain extra weight. However, these foods may have the exact amount or even more calories then the original product! Fat gives taste to many products. Taking fat from the food can take the taste away as well. To make such foods taste better, extra ingredients are usually be added for better taste (e.g. sugar or flour). These ingredients are high in calories and will still lead to weight gain!
DRINKING SOFT DRINKS WON’T ADD UP MUCH CALORIES….. FALSE A 32-oz "medium" Coke Classic has 300 calories and 21 teaspoons of sugar. A "large" (44-oz) Coke and a large popcorn gives you enough calories for the next 24 hours. Diet sodas contained between one and twelve calories, depending on size.
CONCLUSION Fast-Food is becoming more and more acceptable and convenient in our society. With our daily busy schedules, many just don't have time to prepare the food at home or go out to eat at a restaurant. Fast-food restaurants also offer low price, variety and predictability. However, they tend to be very high in fat, salt, sugar and, therefore, in calories. So It's better, one reduce the portion size of unhealthy fast foods and also don’t forget to include large amounts of fruits & vegetables in your diet.