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Fast Food and Obesity

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 8 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Fast Food And Obesity

Fast food tends to get a lot of the blame for the rising levels of obesity across the world – especially the increase in obesity among kids. But is it fair to blame such a complex problem on one type of food? Or are there more important social factors that create an environment where fast food and obesity are inextricably linked?

Fast Food is Fatty

There’s no doubt that the vast majority of fast food and junk foods are loaded with fat. For a long time, the accepted wisdom has been that eating fat makes you fat, pure and simple, so it’s easy to make the assumption that fast food is to blame for all society’s obesity problems.

It’s certainly true that the way fast food is made up, nutritionally speaking, can encourage people to overeat it without realising, and this can lead to obesity. Experts from the Medical Research Council have reported that because fast food tends to be very calorie dense, it’s easy to carry on eating it and consume more calories than you need. Most of these calories do come from fat and sugar, both a big feature in most fast food treats.The researchers from the MRC came to the conclusion that a diet that contained a lot of fast food was likely to increase the risk of obesity - even if they didn’t think that they were eating any more than they would have done at a non fast food meal

How Does Fast Food Affect Weight and Health?

A fifteen year study in America (and published in the Lancet medical journal in 2004) came to the conclusion that people who reported eating fast food regularly over their lifetime are more likely to become obese and also to develop type 2 diabetes, which is more common in obese people.The study looked at the diets of more than 3,000 adults who were aged between 18 and 30 at the start of the survey, and monitored them over the following 15 years. They found that people who ate fast food meals more than twice a week ended up weighing 4.5kg more, on average, than those who rarely ate fast food at all. They also had twice as much chance of developing increased insulin resistance, which put them at a greater risk of developing diabetes.

Does Fast Food Always Make You Fat?

Some people - kids and adults - manage to eat fast food without becoming obese – and while some of this is undoubtedly because of their metabolism, it could also be because they eat fast food in moderation and manage not to overeat it.

The key to eating fast food is to make it an occasional indulgence, rather than a habit, and also to pay attention to the menu when you’re ordering. You can choose the lower fat options, or simply decide not to have the fatty side order of fries. There’s never really any need for super sizing your meal, and when the girl behind the counter asks you if you want extra, or to go double, or have fries with that – you don’t have to!

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