In many parts of the world, junk food consumption is increasing at a considerable rate. Junk food refers to food that is high in calories, but of little nutritional value. Based on the data published by the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately 37% of U.S. adults consume junk food on any given day. Given that today’s generation is generally busy, most people consider it as a convenient source of food since it can be prepared and served within a very short period of time. However, its convenience does come with a price. Recent research has demonstrated that excessive consumption of junk food can pose increased health risks. Therefore, it has become necessary to consider the pros and cons of junk food before a quick meal. Some key points are outlined below.
Recent research by the National Center for Biotechnology Information demonstrates that there are three main reasons that people opt for junky fast food as their main course. The first reason is that it is incredibly convenient and available 24/7. People are busy fulfilling their responsibilities and commitments, which can be time-consuming. In this scenario, fast food is the best option since it is readily available compared to home-cooked meals, which require shopping beforehand, cooking and washing and cleaning following the meal. Furthermore, it is an excellent option for people who do not know how to cook or single people who do not want to cook for one.
The second reason for consumption is that junk food and fast food are cheap. According to a recent study conducted by Huff Post Healthy Living, junk food is approximately $1.50 cheaper per day, or about $550 per year, compared to healthy food. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the increasing unemployment rate, making ends meet has become a real problem for many families. Therefore, people have been turning to junk food and fast food as their main course.
Lastly, junk food tastes really good. A recent study conducted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine revealed that 69% of the people attested to the fact that pizzas, burgers, fries, hot dogs and other typically processed foods are very much irresistible, flavor-wise. To add to that, fast food restaurants are everywhere and have flexible hours of operation. That’s good news when people are craving late-night food or have a tight schedule and just want to grab a to-go meal.
Despite its merits to human life, junk foods and fast foods pose many health risks. It is rich in fats, salts, sugars and artificial substances, which increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It also impairs digestion and increases blood sugar levels. Increased reliance on junk food can lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Associated symptoms also comprise acidity, constipation and distention due to increased accumulation of water and sodium in the abdomen. Additionally, the sudden spikes in blood sugar levels can also lead to the development of Type 2 Diabetes.
Obesity is also on the rise as a result of excessive consumption of junk and fast foods. It is a problem because it makes an individual more prone to chronic health conditions and also takes a toll on their mental health. Despite the easy access, junky fast foods might make an individual feel good in the moment, but afterward, they may feel sluggish, reducing their chances of exercising.
Finally, junk food is extremely addictive. However, it is not as fulfilling as more nutritional counterparts. It stimulates the reward center of the brain in the same way as addictive drugs, like heroin, and induces feelings of satisfaction. After a certain period of time, people tend to eat more junk food in order to satisfy their hunger. Eventually, it lowers their appetite and leads to decreased consumption of healthy food overall.