Effects of Fast Food consumption on Human Health (part 1)

The implication of poor eating habits to disorders such as obesity has placed nutrition at the core of approaches towards addressing such disorders. Among the poor eating habits is the frequent intake of fast food in modern society, with their ready availability and enticing taste enhancing such habits. Frequent intake of fast foods is prevalent with respect to food taken away from home, and observations that expenditures on food taken away from home, have increased over time, relative to total food expenditure, indicate the increasing prevalence of the habit in modern society. For instance, in the US, it is noted that the proportion of expenditure on food eaten away from the home environment has increased to approximately 50 percent, from estimates of 26% and 39% in 1970 and 1996 respectively (Harnack and French 1296). Such a trend presents a public health challenge since food offered in restaurants and other eating joints away from home, is suggested to contain more calories and fats relative to that taken at home (Harnack and French 1296). Thus, by evaluating dangers presented to human health by frequent intake of fast foods, this paper provides information that may motivate appropriate eating behaviors in the population.

The implication of consuming fast foods on human health is heightened by the increasing availability and consumption of such foods in society. When consumed in moderation (occasionally), fast food may not result into harmful health outcomes since such may not affect the long-term energy balance, significantly (Harnack and French 1296). However, various studies have established that consumption of fast foods is highly prevalent in modern society. For instance, in one cross-sectional study conducted in the US with 17,370 adults and children, frequent consumption of fast food was noted in as much as 37% of the adults and 42% of the children (Paeratukul et al. 1332). In this study, individuals who regularly consumed fast food, were profiled to have had high proportion of foods rich in energy, saturated fats, carbonated soft drinks and sodium, while having limited intake of foods that have a low-energy, but high nutritive value, such as fruits and vegetables (Paeratukul et al. 1332). In yet another study, but a longitudinal one-focused on profiling trends of fast-food intake in in the age-period spanning middle adolescence to young adulthood, males were noted to have had significantly increased their intake of fast food in the follow-up study conducted three years later, to 33% from 24% in the baseline study (Larson et al. 79). Although the increase in females was marginal (from 21 to 23 percentages), the study revealed that frequency of intake of fast foods at the baseline predicted that of the follow-up study, both for males and females (Larson et al. 79). Accordingly, information that would offer individuals the motivation to choose health alternatives in the foods taken away from home could help reduce the impact of such foods, since altering frequency for visiting places that offer fast food on a regular basis, may be difficult to achieve. Go to part 2 here.

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