Many people struggle with unwanted extra weight and obesity, which both increase one's risk for heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. In fact, over one-third of adults are clinically obese and 17% of children in America are obese.
Research has shown that several factors are the source of weight gain in America, such as processed and high-fructose foods, beverages that are high in sugar and sedentarism.
While many people gain weight with age, research shows this has little to do with one's metabolism and more with a decreased level of activity. Taking into account the common sedentary lifestyle that people live and the increase of up to 300 more calories per day today than just 40 years ago, it makes sense that the number of people suffering from obesity has gone up.
Fast Foods Contribute to the Obesity Epidemic
Researchers have found that while carbohydrates may contribute to the rise in obesity, the cause and effect of this is still unknown. Researchers believe that there has been a dramatic increase in the production of corn and soybeans due to the incentives given to farmers to provide cheap crops to the market. Reduced prices on ingredients in addition to the discovery of making more shelf-stable and processed foods has given fast food restaurants a new supply of food.
In order to provide inexpensive food to customers and be competitive with other restaurants, restaurants typically add ingredients such as salt, sugar, unhealthy fat, and artificial flavors to trigger consumers' appetites. However, the additives and chemicals that are used to created processed foods destroys the good bacteria in the gut, which leads to more health problems.
Studies have shown that eating even a relatively small amount of highly processed foods is toxic to one's gut microbiome, which begin to die off soon after eating a diet full of processed foods. This suggests that eating excess calories from fast food may be only one of several factors to blame for America's, and now other regions of the world’s rising weight.
Studies have found that a lot of the options at fast food restaurants are extremely dense in calories and you only need to eat a little bit of this processed food to raise your caloric intake. The truth is, people are not good at estimating the energy density of food, meaning that it is tough to figure out how many calories a meal contains just by looking at it. A healthy meal that is large may be equal in calories to a small fast food meal.
In areas of the world where obesity hardly occurs, the systems that regulate the human appetite have evolved for people to live off of a low-energy diet. Our bodies were not created to deal with the energy-dense foods that are available to us in industrialized (wealthier) societies, which is increasing the obesity epidemic.
It is well known that typical fast food is very bad for your health, the environment, and for people who are working in the industry. However, fast food chains advertise in ways that make customers continue to come back.
The prices offered at fast food restaurants also make people flock to them for meals, and the consistency of the food creates a psychological change in people, driving them to seek familiarity and want to come back often, for that comfort.
In fact, a recent study found that having more fast food restaurants around where you live increases the risk of your mortality from heart disease and stroke and increases your risk of having diabetes.
To help both your health and the environment, choose to eat fresh produce like fruits and vegetables instead of eating fast food. Not only can you eat more of these foods, but they will also help you live longer and stave off chronic diseases. If everyone chose fresher, less processed foods, the obesity epidemic may decline and the health and life expectancy of our population increase.