As we have stepped into the 21st century, one thing which has been a part of our lifestyle worldwide is definitely junk food. In the past, people didn’t have much to choose from as there were fewer restaurants and hotels available everywhere. Apart from that people had time to prepare home cooked food which was much more healthy and rich in nutrition. Nowadays, there are restaurants and fast food hubs in every nook and cranny of any place we visit in the world. In our busy lifestyle today, we have to juggle between multiple jobs, college, family and travelling because of which junk food serves as an easy medium to fill our stomach in a short time. Junk food is even more popular because it can be prepared in a short time and it is pocket-friendly too. It goes easy on the wallet as Junk food is not very expensive.
Junk food has already become a global thing now. It is easily available anywhere at college canteens, convenience stores, subways, fast food courts, on the street or anywhere else. Simply putting it together, Junk food is that type of food which is attractive to look at and tastes good but it has very less nutrition required for the body. It also carries a lot of useless calories which is harmful to human body. Junk food is such kind of food which is prepared in a short time, has less nutritional value and much different from the food that we eat at home on a regular basis. But the idea behind determining what is junk food and what is not may be a personal matter. Some people may consider a particular food as junk food while for some it may be a regular kind of food. Some people may consider Pizza as a Junk food while many people don’t think Pizza is a junk food. Pizza may also have a mixture of nutritional ingredients with meat, vegetable toppings, wheat crust etc.
Another important thing to note about Junk food is that Junk food has less satiation value which means that one may not feel full after eating Junk food. This is the reason why people end up eating more than usual both in terms of food quantity and calorie intake. More consumption of junk food also replaces food that has nutrition required for our body. For example, people who drink Coke and Soda regularly don’t get the nutrition they could get from Orange juice or Milk products. Eating more of Chips, French Fries and fried chicken would mean we are missing out on the necessary vegetables and fruits. Mostly when we talk about junk food, we only think about the street food, fast food and snacks but we clearly miss out on the other types of food which could be worse for our health. For instance, breakfast cereals may contain a high amount of sugar, fructose or white flour which is why they can also fall under the junk food category.
Junk food also known as fast food is factory processed and it contains an unnecessary amount of calories, carbohydrates, fat, salt or sugar. Many television advertisements and aggressive media campaigns have made industrially produce snacks and packaged food items very popular. Most of the children and teenagers get used to such kind of food like cookies, candy bars, chips, chocolates, cheese puffs etc. In the US contribution of calories by such kind of packaged junk food has become a great problem now. When our normal diet schedule gets replaced by junk food on a daily basis then we suffer from various problems like weight gain, poor health and lack of nutrition. Overconsumption of Junk food may lead to obesity which is a cause for many other health issues like blood pressure, diabetes, cardiac problems etc. Several researches and studies have proven that junk food like French fries, chicken nuggets, coke, Soda and shakes promote overeating among growing youngsters. The reasons why junk food leads to overeating is that junk food is low in fibre and it mostly tastes good to the tongue. It has a very high quantity of sugar and fat because of which even a small quantity of junk food may have a large amount of calorie. Junk food and fast food has a serious impact on the health of an individual.
Effects of junk food on Health
The different ingredients and an excessive amount of fat, sugar or salt present in the junk food affect our vital body organs. Some of those effects on our body system are explained below.
Effect on the Digestive system and Cardiovascular system
As we know that the junk food and drinks that we eat or drink are overloaded with an excessive amount of calories and carbohydrates. When we take junk food then the digestive system gets to work. The work of the digestive system is to break down the carbohydrate we get from the food and convert it into sugar. Then the sugar flows into the blood. Then insulin is produced by the pancreas which is necessary to carry the sugar into the cells in our body. The blood sugar level in our body gets down when the sugar in the blood is absorbed by the cells. When this happens then another hormone called glucagon is produced by the pancreas. The work of glucagon is to use the sugar which is stored in the body. This system works well under normal conditions and the person will be a healthy but excessive intake of carbohydrate may disturb the insulin-producing and working system. Overproduction of blood sugar may cause resistance to insulin which is one main cause of Type 2 diabetes.
Sugar and fat
An additional amount of sugar used in junk food has less nutritional value but they carry lots of calories. American Heart Association has reported that majority of Americans consume a double amount of sugar than what is safe for our health on a daily basis. Extra consumption of sugar results in more calories and more calories means overweight. Overweight can be the main cause of most health issues including cardiovascular diseases.
Similarly Trans fat is very dangerous for our health and they have no nutritional value. It is banned in most countries. It is found in the junk food that we eat and it is proven to increase the LDL cholesterol levels. LDL cholesterol is unwanted cholesterol in the body. HDL cholesterol which is considered as good cholesterol decreases because of trans fat. This is why Trans fat raises the risks of Diabetes Type 2.
Over-consumption of sodium in our daily diet will cause puffiness and bloating feeling. It will retain the water in the body and Sodium is one big reason for high blood pressure. The heart muscles can also get enlarged or there are higher risks of kidney failure, kidney diseases, stones because of excessive salt. Fluids may be formed at a dangerous level if the person already has problems like kidney diseases, heart failure or liver cirrhosis. Both high cholesterol and high blood pressure are the major causes of strokes and heart-related diseases.
Effect on the Central Nervous System
Researchers conducted around the world have proven that Junk food may also lead to problems related to the central nervous system. There are chances that commercially produced baked items like muffins, chocolate doughnuts, croissants or fast food items such as pizza or burgers may have relation with depression. A journal named Public Health Nutrition had published a study in which it was stated that people who ate these type of junk food had 51 percent more chances of getting depression. The journal ‘Nature’ published a report according to which, a regular junk food diet may have adverse effects on the brain, memory and learning system.
Effect on the Respiratory System
Junk food has been clearly related to Obesity and overweight problems. And it is also known that obesity may cause problems with the respiratory system. Too much of weight can cause breathing problems like shortness of breath. Obesity is also a cause of Sleep Apnea in which the person cannot get a sound sleep. Sleep is continuously disturbed because of shortness of breath and asthma. The journal Thorax also reported that children who eat more junk food at least 3 times a week have higher chances of getting problems with asthma or rhinitis.
Effects on the Skin and Bones
The excess amount of carbohydrates present in the junk food that we eat may provoke acne and pimples. High level of carbohydrates increases the level of blood sugar and as a result, it may also cause acne. There was also an increased risk of eczema in children which is irritation of the skin. Problems are oral health is connected to junk food too. High sugar and high-calorie food or drinks may cause the mouth bacteria to produce acids. The acid harms the enamel of the tooth which is one reason for a dental cavity. When the tooth is damaged, it can’t be replaced so it is better to be careful in the beginning. Similarly, high amount of sodium present in junk food can cause weakness of bones or problem called osteoporosis.
Effects on the Society
As it is evident that junk food has adverse effects on the health of an individual so that obviously has impacts on the society too. Most of the people in the twenty-first century are adopting junk food as their daily diet because of which obesity and health problems caused by obesity is on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that if Body mass Index is higher than 30.0 then that person is called obese.BMI of above 40.0 is considered as extreme obesity. Obesity has become a huge problem among Americans. According to reports, one out of three Americans has been reported as obese and one out of every 20 Americans is reported as extremely obese. In the Latino and Black communities, almost 75 percent people over the age of 20 have been reported as being obese. After the 1970’s the number of fast food chains and restaurants has doubled and the percentage of the obese population has also doubled in the US. Severe health issues like cardiac problems, Kidney diseases, joint problems, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure are on the rise because of obesity. Billions of dollars have already been spent towards the treatment and management of these diseases which are a result of obesity caused by junk food.
Ways to control Junk food
It may be quite difficult to totally keep the junk food out of our daily diet but if possible we must make a habit of eating home cooked food when possible. There are certainly some ways with which we can manage the junk food and keep our health under control. Some of those reliable ways are as follows.
- Visit a restaurant which has healthy food on the menu.
- Order food or drinks which have certain nutrition value, for example, orange juice or whole wheat bagel.
- Smart choices can be very effective. For example, bean burrito and vegetable topped pizza are better than chips, French fries and processed cheese pizza.
- Avoid beverages containing artificial and additional sweeteners like Coke, Pepsi etc.
- Make a choice of food which has less sugar.
- Look for something to eat which has milled grains or hydrogenated oil.