(Photo by Monica D. Spencer)

The dangers of fast food

A quick stop at a fast-food restaurant may seem like a good idea, but according to the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, there are many hidden dangers.

Before someone puts a juicy burger and salty fries in their mouth, they most likely are not thinking about the repercussions that come with eating fast food.

One meal at a fast food restaurant can easily equal the amount of calories you should be eating in a day, according to the National Center for Health Research.

“I believe some people become accustomed to the ease and inexpensive nature of fast food,” said Lori Hamilton, a nutrition program director at Mesa Community College.

On average, adult women should be consuming around 1,600-2,400 calories per day, while an adult man should be consuming 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day, according to Nourish by WebMD.

Most Americans eat fast food on an average of around 1-3 times per week, costing an average of $7 per meal.

The ages most likely to buy fast food on a reoccurring occasion fall between 20-39 years old, a demographic which includes busy college kids, those with families, or working adults.

Some of the most dangerous fast food restaurants to eat at are Wendy’s, Sonic, and Taco Bell due to how many meals at these restaurants consist of nearly 2,000 calories.

According to the Trust for America’s Health, a National Health and Nutrition Examination should that 42.4% of adults are obese. 

Most people are aware of the dangers of eating fast food, but do not know the specific chemicals that go into making your favorite meals.

“I would not say I am knowledgeable about what chemicals I am eating when I do eat fast food,” said Kyleigh Beck Rhone, a Mesa Community College student. 

“Research has shown processed food is harmful to the healthy microbiome of the large intestine; these are the healthy bacteria that live in your gut. Diets composed of processed food have a negative impact on these bacteria, and that means the general health of the body is diminished,” said Hamilton.

A study by Ami Zota, a public health specialist, found two chemicals in fast food items called diethylhexyl phthalate and diisononyl phthalate .

These harmful chemicals are linked to infertility, pregnancy complications, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. 

Phthalates are also found in common household items, cosmetics, lotion, and gloves. 

The Moffitt Cancer Center found fast foods which have smokey flavors, especially meats, are produced by smoke with carcinogens in it. This chemical increases your risk of colorectal cancer and stomach cancer.

Those who eat fast food on a regular basis are seven times more likely to have an early-life stroke by the age of 45, according to The Hidden Danger of Fast and Processed Food. 

One alternative to fast food is preparing meals ahead of time at home.

Consider making a menu for the week, then base your grocery shopping on that menu.

Over the  weekend, cut your vegetables and cook your meat. Even portion it out for lunch and dinner by using separate containers. 

“Meal prepping can take on many forms, but planning ahead is key. You are worth the time and effort it takes to eat healthily,” said Hamilton.

This story was edited on 12/9/2022 to correct an error made at the time of publication.


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