Major health risks associated with fast food use and alarming need of community awareness
Food is a necessary requirement of body but it is important to consider that what is eaten and what must be left. Now a day there is a trend of fast food/junk food. Fast food is basically a kind of food that is cooked and served promptly. This type of food is less important in nutrition content as compared to other foods. While any meal which is prepared in a lesser time considered fast food, typically the term refers to food presented or sold in a restaurant or store with already cooked ingredients and served to the customer in a packaged form to take-away.
Origin of fast food and its status in Pakistan:
The concept of Fast food is actually not new; In New York, Charles Mann Welt opened small selling sausages in 1867. His idea got great success and became more popular. This idea raised in 19th century from a simple fish and chips shop was granted name fast food in 20th century. After that it started to spread towards other countries. It was globalized in 2006. It is a vast market and growing so quickly that none other eatable’s market is growing in its comparison.
Fast food industry is growing day by day in Pakistan also. Fast food is a sort of fashion that is strongly linked to young age which involves school, college and university students. It is strongly believed that fast food is taking place of home cooked food and will replace it completely in some span of time.
Nutritional status of fast food:
Simply meaning of junk food can be taken as empty calorie food. Basically, a calorie free food is actually a high calorie diet which does not contain the micronutrients such as minerals, vitamins, fibers and amino acids but are rich in calories. The nutrients which are required for the human body are not present in such foods.
Diseases associated with fast food use:
As fast food contains zero or no fiber, but a large number of carbohydrates so by eating it on regular basis leads to insulin spikes and that will result in wane insulin production and leads to diabetes type 2 & insulin resistance.
Fat foods are made tastier with sugar, carbohydrates, fats and sodium but this sodium in huge amount will result in water retention. This keeps blood pressure above normal and imparts stress to one’s cardiovascular system. As per recommended daily allowance of sodium, half is obtained through consuming one fast food item.
Obesity is the most common problem developed through fast food consumption that will lead to respiratory problems including Asthma and shortness of breath. Shortness of breath will also limit the mobility of an obese person.
Fast food also had crucial effects on central nervous system (CNS), so fast food consumers had more chances to develop depression.
Phthalates are among the ingredients found in fast food. Phthalates are chemicals thought to be linked with hormone interruption in the body. So, exposure to high levels of these chemicals will lead to reproductive issues.
Eczema, itchy skin, acne and other skin related disorder may arise due to fast food usage.
High sugar may result in tooth enamel. As soon as enamel disappears, bacteria will take hold and will result in cavities.
Leptin, continuously produced by fat cells and the leptin’s level in bloodstream is an indication of body’s fat reserves thus signaling is generated. These signals are read by hypothalamus (the brain part that controls the food intake activities) and takes these signals as an information in order to keep the storage stable. But obese people build resistance against the leptin. Fattier the person is, the more leptin is produced and more insensitive hypothalamus becomes. A stage comes the hypothalamus misreads the drops in leptin as a starvation and fattier will be the person.
Health is not only the mean of ‘physical fitness’ or ‘absence of diseases’. It could be explained by a state of entire psychological, physical and social welfare. When people are healthy they are more efficient. It enhances the productivity and carries the economic prosperity. Personal hygiene and balanced diet is necessary to keep a person active and healthy.
Need of community awareness and potential steps to avoid them:
Good nutrition in children is of the abundant priority. Consumption of junk food is the most famous fact in the children and youngsters between the age of 8 -16. This lifestyle of eating fast food in such age groups have not only the effects on their feelings/emotions/mood patterns but also on their growth, behavior and concentration. Mothers having school going children and working women are leaving the concept of cooking traditional foods at their homes and presenting fast foods to their children. That is drastically dangerous to children health or a kind of playing a game with their children’s health.
Among every individual in community, there is a need to get awareness about junk food. As taking the diet that is healthy for human body is quite difficult task but it is the only mean to avoid junk food and to give confidence about consumption of nutrients rich diet. Many of the foods that thought to be nutrients rich foods as meals having low content of fat, fibers rich food e.g. multi-grain foods as cereals, popcorns, brown rice etc. or fruits and vegetables. Moderate amount of salt and sugar present in food or iron and calcium rich foods are necessary to meet the daily requirements of the body. Health nutritionist can take a fundamental role in maintenance of the human health and to control the modern diet throughout the different phases of life.
This article is collectively authored by Misbah Mahmood1٭, Bushra Akhtar1. Faqir Muhammad1, Ali Sharif2, 1- Institute of Pharmacy, Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Agriculture, Pakistan, 2- Faculty of Pharmacy, The University of Lahore, Pakistan.