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Fast food

Fast-Food is Unhealthy Option for Growing Children and Teenagers

Monday, February 23, 2009 by: Nanditha Ram
Tags: fast food, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Whatever happened to the good, old-fashioned food culture? The answer to that question will be really hard to find. Kids and teenagers today are opting for a greasy burger and a bag of fries, with a soda included to complete the meal. It is the age of fast-food. Eating fast-food means instant gratification. And eating fast-food much of the time can seriously injure the health of anybody, especially growing children and teenagers.

Everywhere they are lamenting that obesity is on the rise, especially amongst children and the overfed are actually the undernourished. Blame it on salt. Call it the fast-food disaster, but a meal at a fast-food restaurant could expose a child to unnaturally high levels of salt. According to a BBC report, "Lobby group, Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash), found one meal from Pizza Hut contained four times the daily limit of salt for a six-year old." "KFC also did poorly in the analysis of hundreds of food items, which also included McDonalds and Burger King."

According to this report also, the daily recommended dosage of salt is no more than 6gm per day for an adult and 3gm per day for a child. Fast-Food meals can easily contain four times that amount for a child and double the recommended amount for an adult. Moreover, these fast-food meals are extremely high in calories. Eat a small amount and you will be packing on the pounds rapidly. Besides, what an excess of salt in the body can do is not to be taken lightly. For example, it can send your blood pressure soaring, thereby putting you at the risk of both stroke and coronary heart disease.

Another BBC news report quotes Researcher Professor Andrew Prentice, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who said: "We all possess a weak innate ability to recognize foods with a high energy density."

He says that we tend to measure food intake by how much is on the plate. A fast-food meal however, contains many more calories than a healthy meal of the same quantity.

He points out that since the dawn of agriculture, the human body has evolved through the low density, high energy diet. This type of diet is still being consumed in the villages of the developing world where obesity is virtually non-existent.

On the other hand, the human body was never made to cope with the high calorie, energy-dense foods consumed in the West. This type of food is a major contributor to the increase in obesity in the West.

Changing food patterns in developing countries have led to a rise in obesity too. This is mostly true in big cities only, where the fast-food culture is quickly spreading.

A diet of fast meals will deplete the body of minerals and deprive it of vitamins. It will provide no dietary fiber, no essential fatty acids and leave it starving for real food to boot - all this, despite the extremely high calorific value from the bad fat in fast-food. If this is what kids and teenagers eat today then diseases attacking the immune system will be on the rise. Health problems such as obesity, heart disease and possibly even osteoporosis will increase due to excessive soda consumption.

The consequences of bad eating are many. From skin problems to obesity and poor digestion, the range is wide - to say nothing of bad health affecting self-esteem and the ability to think clearly. A general lack of energy and constant mood swings, even hormonal imbalances and blood sugar inconsistencies, will follow. And worst of all, an insatiable hunger will keep the vicious cycle going. Fast-food is spiked with monosodium glutamate. This supposedly enhances the taste of the food, makes you hunger for more and creates an addiction just like any other.

It appears that all fast-food and junk food tend to have excessive quantities of salt, sugar or fat added to it. Even domestic kitchens are not free of these barriers to health; the best proof of which are the contents of grocery carts.

To think most humans, at least adults, do this to themselves consciously?

How do we educate our children about food and good eating habits, and how do we teach them to separate the wheat from the chaff? Can we take a good look at how we eat, at why we eat the way we do, and at how that will affect future generations?

Sources: BBC report: Fast food salt levels `shocking`

About the author

Nanditha is a freelance journalist and writer with more than just a passing interest in heath and wellness, food safety and environmental impacts on children's health. She is a yoga and wellness coach, recently relocated to New Zealand. She has published a book on yoga for pregnancy titled "Blissful Mom, Blissful Baby". Please visit http://www.bindumandala.com for more information.
Her blogs can be seen at http://www.bindumandalayoga.blogspot.com

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