The Relationship Between Fast Food Restaurants and Obesity: Unraveling the Complex Connection

Introduction:

Do you eat out a lot? The children will be fatter
There is no child who does not like to order pizza or anything that can be eaten quickly. The problem is that it is usually fattening and unhealthy food. What’s so bad about junk food and how will eating at home help your health?

You come home after a long day of work. What’s simpler than picking up the phone to one of the fast food chains and ordering a pizza, hamburger, shawarma, or sushi? The delivery arrives quickly, the prices are reasonable, the food is satisfying and delicious, and everyone is happy – even the children eat everything and do not leave a crumb.

However, if we examine the food ingredients in the meal we ate, we will find that in most cases, a lot of calories that do us no good, a lot of fat that is harmful to our health, salt in huge amounts, and many additives that may harm our health.

The health authorities in the USA have been claiming for a long time that there is a close connection between eating in fast food chains, and the phenomenon of increased obesity in children and adults that has characterized the USA in recent years.

Many countries in Europe and Asia also claim that there is a connection between the spread of the “junk food” and fast food culture and the increase in the number of overweight children and adults.

What’s so bad about fast food?

  1. Lots of calories and unnecessary fats: most of the hamburgers, schnitzels, pizzas, shawarmas, pastas, sushi and Chinese food offered to us at fast food stands contain unnecessary fats and a lot of calories.

The fast food chains put a lot of effort into serving us delicious and appetizing food. Really lust for the eyes and the palate. However, tasty and well-seasoned food is not necessarily healthy food.

The amount of calories in some of these foods sometimes exceeds the recommended daily intake. One triangle of regular pizza has about 400 calories.

A child who eats 2-3 triangles reaches almost all the daily caloric intake. A hamburger with fries and a sugary drink adds up to more than 1,000 calories. Most of the calories come from fat and simple carbohydrates and not from healthy ingredients.

  1. A very high amount of salt (sodium). In the fast food industry, salt is added in large quantities because it is used as a preservative and as an enhancer and flavor enhancer. Health organizations in Israel and around the world warn that excessive consumption of salt can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, kidney stone formation, heart disease, cancer and more.

The daily amount of sodium that is recommended for an adult is up to 2,400 mg. For children, only half of this amount. In one pizza triangle, the amount of sodium can range from 600-1,000 mg. In a hamburger dish, or a sushi dish accompanied by sauces, the amount of sodium can easily exceed 1,000 mg.

  1. Frying in old and unhealthy oil. A large part of the food sold at the stalls is fried in oil that has been fried many times and has not been replaced. Oil that has been fried several times contains oxidizing agents and harmful chemicals.

4. Unhealthy saturated fat. Some of the foods sold at fast food stands include saturated fats that tend to accumulate in the blood vessel walls (along with other substances) and may cause cardiovascular diseases or strokes over the years. Relatively large amounts of saturated fat can be found in pizza, hamburger, falafel, shawarma and sausages.

  1. Sauces that contain sodium fat and preservatives: most types of fast food are served with generous amounts of sauces, mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup. The sauces that are provided free of charge (which is why they are used a lot) usually contain a lot of fat, sodium (salt), sugar and flavor-enhancing spices, some of which are even harmful (such as monosodium glutamate). Sauces accompany foods such as falafel, hummus, pizzas, hamburgers, hot dogs, schnitzels, shawarma and sushi.

  1. The food is not always fresh. There are fast food chains where the food is always fresh and is only ready after receiving the order from the customer. However, there are chains and fast food stalls where the salads stand for a long time in the open air, the cheeses are out of the fridge for hours, and cooked food is waiting for someone to buy it.

Sensitive foods such as meat, cheeses and especially raw fish (sushi), not under optimal refrigeration conditions, can be a good breeding ground for pathogenic bacteria that can damage our immune and digestive systems.

There is nothing like food prepared at home
If you want to maintain your health, it is recommended to make a delicious and nutritious pizza at home, a juicy and fresh hamburger, and even a falafel made from ground chickpeas.

You don’t have to be a master chef to prepare delicious and healthy “fast food” for all family members. It requires simple organization, buying basic and healthy food products, and many times the cooperation of all family members. For children this can be a fun experience and as a bonus they will also learn about healthy and sensible eating.

And most importantly: when you prepare the falafel pizza or the hamburger at home, you can control the amount of salt, fat and sugar and use them sparingly.

From personal experience, it is possible to reduce by 50-70% the amount of salt and oil in schnitzels, hamburgers and pizzas that you prepare yourself at home.

Conclusion

While it is evident that fast food restaurants play a role in the obesity epidemic, it is essential to recognize the broader context and contributing factors. Individual responsibility, education on nutrition, and initiatives to promote healthier eating habits are crucial components of addressing the issue. Public health interventions, such as menu labeling, promoting smaller portion sizes, and encouraging healthier menu options, can also contribute to mitigating the impact of fast food on obesity. In the end, understanding the complex relationship between fast food and obesity is vital for developing comprehensive strategies to promote healthier lifestyles and combat this pressing public health concern.

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