Junk food a big threat to your health

The term, “junk food”, was coined by Michael Jacobson in 1972. “Junk”, literally means something useless and worth throwing out. Various studies have shown that this type of food is as useless and harmful as junk.

Over the past few decades, along with development and increasing affluence, there has been increase in the use of junk food, all over the world.

Currently, with more women joining the workforce, nobody has the time to prepare a fresh whole meal at home. Reliable domestic help is not easily available as before. Long distances make it difficult for people in big cities to go home for lunch. Hence majority of the working people take to eating fast food in canteens/ restaurants during the day. They mostly eat burgers, sandwiches, fried potatoes, among others.

Tastes of children and youngsters have also changed. Burgers and fries, instant ready to eat chips, noodles and puddings, have become favorite meals for children and teenagers. Elders also like to eat this stuff because of the convenience involved. But now scientific studies have demonstrated the health hazards of these fast foods. It is not few individuals but people as whole who are suffering from adverse health due to junk food.

Junk or fast food is tasty, and does not need any efforts in preparation. It is easy to store for many days. Multiple chemicals are involved in processing and preserving it. Fried foods have lot of saturated fats which are harmful.

The good taste comes from hydrogenated fats. These fats lead to obesity, hypertension, diabetes and heart diseases. Increasing obesity among children is due to consumption of this kind of food. White sugar used in many fast foods, is a source of obesity and has no nutritional value. Thus it accelerates deposition of fat on inner layer of vessels and also diabetes, hence increasing risk for cardiovascular diseases. it also damages the teeth.

Studies suggests that using fast food recurrently leads to altered brain activity similar to abusive substances, thus one become addicted to them. Artificial sweeteners like saccharin and aspartame are implicated to be producing cancer.

Monosodium glutamate(MSG), used in ready-to-eat foods and snacks, is known to be a cancer producing substance. Other chemicals used are also carcinogenic.

Junk foods are implicated in causing liver diseases Studies have shown them to be more damaging to the liver than alcohol.

The wide range of chemicals used as food preservatives, additives, flavouring and coloring agents are a source of allergy in susceptible people.

Various kinds of chemicals used in fast foods, reduce the immunity of the body (ability to fight and kill infectious germs). That is why that in spite of so much advancement in medical science and technology, there are outbreaks of diseases, like swine flu, and bird flu, even in developed countries.

Such food is low in fiber content as compared to fresh food. Therefore it is poorly digested and leads to problems of indigestion.

Due to good business strategies of the concerned companies, fast foods are advertised falsely as being nutritious. Due to ignorance, people consume them with no inkling as to what is happening to their health.

Mothers fondly give such foods to their children considering that it will make them strong, but in reality, they are harmful.

Nutritionally, freshly prepared food is far superior to fast food. Many essential minerals and trace elements cannot be supplemented by artificial means, i.e. like by vitamin tablets or syrups. Therefore it is high time that people become aware of the health hazards of fast food. It is fine to eat it once a while for a change. But by consuming it very frequently, after some time, one spoils their health in addition to the money spent.

Dr Rachna Pande,

specialist – internal medicine

E-mail: rachna212002@yahoo.co.uk