Forgo Fast Food For Your Overall Health – InVite Health Podcast, Episode 278
Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Amanda Williams, MPH
Did you know that back in the early 1990s, roughly one quarter of Americans self-reported that they were big consumers of fast food? Now, we fast forward another decade and that number has gone up exponentially. We are now looking at a statistic closer to 40%. Certainly, we know that for many Americans, fast food is quick and convenient. Oftentimes, they eat it because they enjoy the taste of certain fast foods. Not every single fast food is technically a horrible option, but for the most part, we know that they are truly lacking the nutrients that we need in order for our bodies to function properly.
This is a problem. I want to get into some details today about fast food, including the behavioral and metabolic components to it.
The prevalence of fast food
Just from looking at fast food consumption amongst adults in the United States, which is found in the National Health Survey published by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), we know that roughly 40% of US adults are consuming fast food. There could be variables based upon age, but we also recognize that many Americans are partaking in the consumption of fast food on an everyday basis. When I was growing up, we ate at home and going to Burger King was a big treat. It wasn’t something that we did on a regular basis. Now, for many Americans, eating fast food has become quick and economically convenient. Also, the way that they pump all of the bad carbs, sugars and fats into those foods, it is something that the American palette has become almost addicted to.
One particular study in the Advances in Nutrition journal looked at the amount of Americans who reported eating at fast food restaurants weekly. When the researchers looked at those statistics, they found that that number was even higher than what the CDC was reporting. When they looked at people going to a fast food restaurant at least once per month, they found that 80% of Americans were doing so.
The impact of fast food on the body
Fast food is often made with these very nutrient-lacking ingredients. The high-fat component is quite high. The added sugar is incredibly high, which is what keeps you going back. Many of these fast food restaurants have altered their menus to try to include healthier options, but even with that being said, we can generally look and say that even the healthier options are still not as good as if we are preparing our own foods at home and adhering to the Mediterranean diet.
In the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, they talked about the hidden dangers of fast food and processed foods and seeing that Americans are really starting to take this upward tick in daily consumption of fast foods. What we must recognize is what is actually happening internally. When we look at fast food patterns and cardiometabolic disorders, it is quite pronounced. We can see issues with obesity, overweight, prediabetes, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. We must start to recognize this and make changes in this country and worldwide.
Researchers have done multiple studies to really analyze what is happening at this acute level in our system after we consume these really unhealthy foods. In the Nutrition journal about ten years ago, they did an interesting study where they were looking at different markers for inflammation, such as NF-kappa beta activation, recognizing that after someone ate a high-fat meal coming from a fast food restaurant, for example, they saw this sharp increase in NF-kappa beta in the body. This means we’re getting a lot more systemic inflammation that was driving up, which I think is really quite interesting. Looking at these different inflammatory factors and also looking at what is happening within the vascular system itself is not something to be dismissed.
Learn more about how fast food can impact your overall health by tuning into the full podcast episode.
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