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Archive for November, 2015

Negative Health Effects of Fast Food

The ill effects of fast food and the potential danger it possesses from its regular consumption is shocking. Obesity, increase in cholesterol levels, nutritional deficiencies, cardiac disorders, loss of muscle mass, depression, and even sexual dysfunction, can all be caused by eating fast food on a regular basis. Soaked in trans fat and loaded with calories, fast foods are labeled as ‘health hazards’ by many leading medical professionals.

10 Negative Health Effects of Fast Food

#1 – Headaches
The processed meat used in fast food contain nitrates, nitrites, artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate which increase blood flow and can trigger a migraine attack. Additives are used to keep the meat fresh and to prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum the bacteria which causes food poisoning. The increased blood flow can cause excessive pressure to build up in the head and can lead to headaches.

#2 – Collection of Trans Fat
The processed food used in the fast food industry is loaded with trans fat, which not only increase the ‘bad cholesterol’ (Low Density Lipoprotein) levels but also reduce the ‘good cholesterol’ (High Density Lipoprotein) levels. Processed meat used by fast food industries can sometimes have 45% more trans fat than their natural counterparts.

#3 – Increased Cholesterol Levels
Consuming fast foods leads to an increased intake of cholesterol which is highly dangerous for humans. The cholesterol molecules attach themselves to the arteries which leads to their thickening or clogging. This can obstruct the blood flow and lead to high blood pressure. The accumulation of cholesterol in any one of the main arteries can cause blockage and lead to heart conditions.

#4 – Depression
Depression is one of the many negative effects of fast food. This emotional condition has been linked to regular consumption of fast foods by a study done by the University College of London. According to the study, people who indulge in fast foods often are 58% more likely to suffer from depression. Fast foods do not contain antioxidants, foliate, and omega -3s which is necessary for good mental health. Fast foods contain preservatives, emulsifiers, thickeners, stabilizers, and flavor enhancers which can affect the mental well-being of the person.

#5 – Excessive Sodium Intake
Fast foods contain high amounts of sodium which can lead to hypertension and high blood pressure. Although small amounts of sodium is needed for bodily functions, consuming too much can lead to not just high blood pressure, but build up of fluids in people who are suffering from liver cirrhosis, congestive heart failures or kidney ailments.

#6 – Sexual Dysfunction
What we eat affects our physical, mental, and sexual health. Fatty acids found in fast foods are a major contributor to sexual dysfunction, not only does it cause weight gain but can trigger biochemical changes which effect libido, sperm count and female ovulation.

#7 – Food Poisoning
Even if we overlook the dangers posed by low fiber, trans fat and high calories, fast food pose another problem, food poisoning. The processed meat is many times contaminated with manure which contains Escherichia Coli and Salmonella. E.Coli is considered very difficult to treat and sometimes referred to as the worst sort of food poisoning. Even after antibiotics kill the bacteria, the toxins released by it can produce harmful effects. This disease is usually spread through undercooked hamburgers and is a leading cause of renal failure among American kids.

#8 – Addictive Nature of Fast Foods
According to the Science Daily, high levels of sugar and fat can cause blood sugar to spike and then crash suddenly. The patrons of fast food feel a sudden rush of euphoria when this happens making them dependent on the euphoric effects of insulin surges. Therefore one of the harmful effects of fast food consumption is the addiction or the incessant craving it causes among people.

#9 – PFCA Contamination
The wrappers used in the fast food industry are coated with perfluoroalkyls (PAC) which prevents the grease from leaving through. These have been proven to get inside the human body and change into more harmful forms which can lead to many health complications. The wrappings used in fast food industry are a significant and indirect source of PFCA contamination.

#10 – Weight Gain
Studies have found a direct link between fast food consumption and weight gain and increased Body Mass Index (BMI). The high levels of trans fat and calories present in fast foods leads to accumulation of abdominal fat and even insulin resistance which is an early indicator of diabetes. Obesity has been ranked the number one health threat for Americans; it is also the second leading cause of preventable death in United States which claims up to 400,000 lives a year. Obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart problems, hypertension, blocked arteries, increase in cholesterol levels, malnutrition, loss of muscle mass and depression.

Fast food addiction can lead to an unhealthy and depressive sedentary lifestyle; to prevent this, it’s recommended to switch to a healthy and balanced diet along with regular exercise. Remember the key to happiness is a healthy lifestyle.

History of the Fast Food Industry

Fast food restaurants or outlets today are either kiosks or elaborate quick service restaurants. The franchise operations have generated restaurant chains that offer standardized meals across the globe. On account of a low capital requirement and popularity of fast food, fast food restaurants and drive-through outlets are common throughout the world. Also known as sit-ins and upscale kiosks, these restaurants cater to the dry food demands of the younger generation, extremely tight adult work schedule and distinct ambiance preferences across the globe.

History of the Fast Food Industry

The concept of fast food is generally associated with urban development. However, research reveals that the trend has its roots in the bread-and-wine stands in ancient Rome and the popular ready-to-eat noodle shops in many East Asian cities. All through the ancient and medieval world, flat-bread, falafel and other heat-and-serve meals were popular attractions at roadside stands. The kiosks or brochettes that were once associated with a clientèle, from the not-so-elite strata of society, are now a part of the urban and ultra-modern lifestyle. The history of Roman antiquity reveals that bread soaked in wine and stewed vegetables, and meat were commonly sold at popinas, the eating establishments that thrived during the era. All through the Middle Ages, major urban areas in London and Paris supported stalls that sold pies, flans, pastries, pancakes and precooked meats. These outlets catered to the demands of single households and town dwellers, who rented facilities devoid of kitchens. The kiosks also catered to pilgrims and traders. Though pubs and coffee houses were popular in the western world by the 18th century, the idea of eating out for fun didn’t take off in Western society until the late 18th century. Industrialization and automation turned out to be a boon for the fast food industry as the rise of automobiles in the world also marked the rise in dining out and drive in restaurants. The two World Wars and growth in American economy firmly entrenched the concept of fast food as an American way of life. Today, the United States boasts of the largest fast food industry in the world, and more than 100 countries around the world have American-owned fast food restaurants. Fast food preparation and food servicing provides employment to approximately 2 million U.S. workers in the USA. And since the US is considered to be the capital or pioneer of the fast food industry let us take a look at a brief time-line of the fast food industry in America.

Significant Events in the US Fast Food Industry

1902: The first known food vending machines or Automat opened by Horn and Hodart in Philadelphia.
1912: Horn and Hodart become the first food chain in the US by opening an Automat in Manhattan.
1916: The first low-cost limited menu high-speed hamburger restaurant called White Castle opens in Wichita KS.
1919: A&W Root Beer becomes the first chain to start drive-in by installing road-side stalls.
1921: White Castle opens its first restaurant that sells hamburgers for 50 cents.
1930: Howard Johnson starts the concept of franchising and use of standardized menus logos or signage and advertising.
1948: In-N-Out Burger employs drive-through service using call box technology.
1951: The term fast food is recognized in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
1967: McDonald’s opens its first restaurant outside the United States in Canada and Puerto Rico.
1967: High fructose corn syrup, an ingredient that tricks the body into wanting to eat more and store more fat, appears in fast food.
1971: The first Starbucks store opens in Seattle selling high-quality coffee beans and equipment.
1991: Arby’s becomes the first fast food chain to introduce a light meal with foods under 300 calories and up to 94% fat-free.
1994: Arctic Circle becomes the first restaurant to sell Angus beef exclusively.
2002: McDonald’s cuts back on trans fat on its French fries by 48%.
2005: McDonald’s mascot Ronald ranks 2nd in the top-10 advertising icons of the 20th century.
2006: According to an estimate, Americans spend nearly $142 billion on fast food.

Overview of the Fast Food Industry

An overview of the fast food industry, highlights the availability of meals that suffice the need to eat amidst tight work schedule. This has offered great respite to parents who shuttle between work and home for major part of the day. Delicacies like fish and fries, vegetarian and non-vegetarian burgers and pizzas are washed down with great relish, with ales and aerated drinks served complimentary at many of these fast food restaurants. Though accompaniments like coleslaw, baked potatoes and mushy peas satisfy the established and widely accepted compulsion for vegetable-intake, the fried foods are becoming addictive, depriving the modern child of a balanced diet. There is no dearth with regards to the variety available at these outlets. Fast food franchise chains such as Subway, Burger King, McDonald’s, Pret-a-Manger and Pizza Hut cater to demands for seafood, lean meat, special diet meal components, and other considerable regional variations. Snacks such as sandwiches and baguettes are the result of experiments within the fast food industry. Most clientèle indulge in the semi-dry and dry meals, to avoid interruption while working or to fulfill a family commitment that otherwise requires a considerable amount of time to be spent in the kitchen.

Most fast food variants share similarities with distant cuisines and cultures. This industry now thrives on international appeal promoted by niche chains. The development of healthier alternatives to the conventional servings at fast food restaurants, has resulted in mass promotion of portable foods that can be put together by the consumers themselves. At many outlets and drive-ins, the customers can see the food being prepared, thus confirming to advertisements that flaunt hygienic standards. Standardized menus, signage and a unique ambiance are flaunted at take-away services and sit-ins all over the world. The concept of eat-on-the-go not only eliminates the need for traditional cutlery, but also enables customers to indulge in foods that are characteristic of certain cultural or ethnic traditions. The common menus include pitas, fried chicken, nuggets and tacos, served along with complimentary salads and breads. The fast food industry now operates out of convenience stores, elaborate restaurants and independent vendors, who have popularized chant sales-pitches, standardized cooking and production methods, and easy availability of low-cost delicacies.

Today, the fast food industry has become a fiercely competitive arena where brand recognition and loyalty rules. Aggressive marketing and innovative advertising has not only succeeded in making the fast food industry truly massive, but they have also drawn fire from critics ranging from their advertising strategies, to the unwanted attention from public health concerns. Fast food is well and truly a global phenomenon. With massive promotional budgets, and smart advertising by adapting to public sentiments and moods, fast food industry will continue to be a force to be reckoned with.