11 Side Effects of Fast Food

April 21st, 2011 by Helen Scholz

Fast food may seem like the best option for dinner when you are in a hurry, but before your next drive-through window stop, there are some things you should know.  Not only is fast food tough on the wallet, the list of side effects and health risks it can cause to your body is a long one. The toll it can take on your overall health may not be worth the convenience.

Obesity

First and foremost, eating fast food on a regular basis will undoubtedly cause you and your family to gain weight. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 34% of adults and close to 17% of children in the United States are obese. The popularity of fast food is largely to blame for these alarming numbers. Most fast foods are high in fat, salt, and sugar which will speed up weight gain, and possibly cause a chain reaction of other problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and more.

Over-Eating

Even if you aren’t overweight, fast food can still cause you to over-eat. Portion sizes that are handed out are much larger than suggested serving sizes, and if you finish your food you may feel bloated and uncomfortable.

Cardiovascular Disease

Heart disease currently causes the highest number of deaths annually in the United States. Fast and unhealthy foods are enormous contributors to this epidemic. Fatty foods not only cause an increase in blood pressure, they also cause high cholesterol, leading to plaque build-up in the arteries. This blockage is a one-way ticket to a heart attack.

Diabetes

Many fast foods and beverages are loaded with sugars. When blood sugar is elevated on a regular basis, your risk for Type 2 diabetes goes way up. Obesity is also a leading cause of diabetes – so eating fast food doesn’t help you decrease your odds.

Stroke

As if heart disease and diabetes weren’t bad enough, strokes are another possible side effect of consuming too much fast food. The fat in greasy or fried food can cause blockages in the blood vessels, which over time can possibly lead to a stroke. Obesity and high blood pressure increase this risk.

Food Poisoning

Let’s face it, when you are cooking at home, you can control the way your food is handled and cooked. Fast food is exactly that – fast. Underpaid employees that are in a hurry to get your order filled may not always take the time to handle your food properly or cook it thoroughly. Although the chances of food poisoning are usually minimal, it is still a concern when you aren’t the one doing the cooking!

Allergic Reactions

Many people have allergies or food sensitivities – common culprits are fish, nuts, eggs, and milk, but the list could go on. Many fast food chains serve foods that contain these ingredients, so if you have food allergies, beware. Your food may be prepared on a surface that may have had contact with “problem” ingredients.

Heartburn

Heartburn is a common side effect of fast food consumption. Usually fast food is eaten quickly on the go, and this action alone can cause this painful condition. Heavy, fried foods are known culprits, so if you suffer from frequent heartburn, fast food should not be on the menu. The body requires more time to digest fast foods, resulting in more pressure in the stomach. This pressure eventually weakens the lower esophageal sphincter muscle which puts you at greater risk for heartburn or acid reflux. Over time, the excess stomach acid that forces its way back up will damage the lining of your esophagus. This can be very painful- and is not worth the momentary enjoyment you get out of eating a burger and fries.

Constipation

Most fast foods contain little or no fiber. Eating a fast food meal may leave you feeling the discomforts of constipation. To maintain that “regular” feeling, bypass your local burger joint and prepare your own healthy fiber-rich meals at home!

Increased Hunger

Fast foods may be high in calories, but unfortunately they are empty ones. While you may feel full and satisfied immediately after eating a fast food meal, the feeling won’t last long. These unhealthy foods can pass right through you, leaving you with a hungry feeling very soon afterwards.

Stress

Eating fast food as part of your regular diet can induce stress and feelings of sadness. Fatty foods are not “happy” foods, and consuming them can make you feel sluggish and unmotivated. An unhealthy diet can lead to weight gain and negative body-image.  Skip the foods that make you feel bad and eat a balanced, nutritious diet- you’ll feel good about yourself and eliminate a big source of stress.

Fast foods simply aren’t worth the high price your body has to pay for eating them. It’s okay to have them once in a while, but maybe after considering the side effects they cause, they won’t seem very desirable after all.

Guest post from Bailey Harris. Bailey writes for www.insurancequotes.org.