Linking fast foods and obesity is not difficult. Most fast-food menus are overrun with high-fat, low-nutrition offerings known to cause obesity when eaten regularly. Fast-food restaurants are popular despite the fact that many quick, cheap meals are not considered part of a healthy diet. Busy lifestyles invite the ease and convenience of a junk-food diet, but the health risks associated with fast foods and obesity can be deadly.
Fast food is widely accepted because it is convenient, easy, and cheap, but quick and simple do not always equal nutritious and healthy. Fast food is referred to as junk food for a reason; it provides few of the nutrients required for a healthy, well-balanced diet. The term fast food does not just define drive-through fare, either. Quick snacks and many microwave meals are part of the fast-food group found to boost obesity rates.
A number of studies prove the link between eating fast foods and obesity. Statistically, the incidence of obesity is higher in areas where fast food outlets are most plentiful. It is also thought that fast food is a major contributor to childhood obesity, which is a serious health risk and proven cause of type 2 diabetes.
The term obesity indicates a body weight significantly over the recommended healthy weight for a given height. Healthy weight is usually determined by calculating body mass index (BMI). The BMI formula divides body weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters (kg/m2), or body weight in pounds by height in inches squared and then multiplied by 703 (lb/in2x703). A person with BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.
Eating fast foods more than twice a week can lead to obesity, which in turn can cause a variety of health problems. Research indicates that obese individuals are more likely to die at a young age. Additionally, obesity contributes to serious diseases including high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, stroke, sleep apnea, gallbladder disease, and cancer. In fact, higher incidence of obesity is directly related to an increase in type 2 diabetes.
The tie between fast foods and obesity can be severed with healthy food choices, even when dining out or eating on the run. Many fast-food chains have added healthier options to the menu such as salads and fruit. Reducing portion sizes can also reduce the trend toward obesity in people who consume fast food regularly. Substituting a side salad for fries can cut calories and ease the negative impact of fast food on nutrition.