How junk food affects your health?

Junk food or fast food outlets have become extremely popular due to the rising demand among people across the globe. A lucrative business, offering a quick bite at reasonable cost, these finger-licking delicacies, comes with a pack of disadvantages.


Devitalised Junk food

Junk FoodJunk foods are undergone devitalisation process. Fortified with preservatives, chemicals, stabilizers, sweeteners, additives, flavouring, artificial colouring, antioxidants, hydrogenated fats, sodium, sugar and calories they are devoid of essential nutrients triggering a host of health problems.


Additives and chemicals

Additives and chemicals help enhance scrumptiousness, colour, zest and consistency, in junk food. Today in order to process food companies use nearly six thousand additives and chemicals that have dire consequences.



Preservatives are a form of additive used for long lasting freshness. A toxin used in molasses and dried fruits, sulphur dioxide helps get rid of the fungus like brown specks off fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots and potatoes. Besides concealing the rotten portions by blanching them, they also destroy the Vitamin B content sustained within them.


Certain foods when consumed have the possibility of transforming sodium nitrites to nitrous acid, which is a major contributor for developing risk of cancer.


The preservatives used in meat products such as bacon and ham known as nitrates and nitrites in certain people cause allergic reactions such as headaches, vomiting, queasiness and respiratory problems.


Carbonated sodas, beverages and fruit juices contain sodium benzoate or Benzoic acid that prove deadly for apart from causing certain allergic reactions, they have chances of leading to mortality.



Of all the additives the most commonly used are the artificial or natural flavouring containing innumerable chemicals causing behavioural problems and allergic reactions


Another flavouring used is Monosodium glutamate (MSG) used in various food products that set off certain reactions such as mood swings, depression, chest pains and dizziness.



About three thousand tons of synthetic colouring agents are utilized by the American food industry, with a majority of them derived from tar coal. These agents used in canned foods, carbonated beverages sodas, jellies and jellybeans are banned in many countries as they have a tendency to cause hyperactivity, respiratory problems, asthma and cancer.



Although health experts recommend consumption of foods rich in antioxidants, to protect premature aging, those used in junk foods for retaining their freshness, when exposed to oxygen, is extremely damaging to health.


The most controversial of all antioxidants used largely are Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT); two noxious elements toxic to the liver and the nervous system are difficult to break down in thus increasing the risk of tumours and cancers.


Stabilizers Emulsifiers and Thickeners

Ice CreamsThese additives are used widely to modify the consistency and the quality of the food. For instance emulsifiers used in ice creams and mayonnaise help prevent the ingredients used in the food from forming a small unappetizing heap.


Another synthetic solvent used commonly to prevent foods from freezing is the propylene glycol; typically toxic to the skin and nervous system though has been has been regarded safe by the Food and drug administration (FDA)



Artificial sugar sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharine, found in junk foods with a probable risk of bladder cancer and social interactive problems do not come with a mandatory warning label.



PizzaExcessive sodium intake is detrimental for health. However, a majority of the quick meals available as junk or pre-packaged foods such as pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, soups, snacks, processed cheese and meat contain high sodium content to enhance their taste and preservation. The recommended dosage for sodium per day is 1,200 – 1,500 milligrams. Nevertheless, a single serving of junk food heavily laden with sauces and other dressings contain 650mg to 2,400 milligrams of salt, which may result in jeopardising overall health. According to recent findings, the American diet contains four times the required amount of salt in a single serving, required for a day.



Fast foods as the name suggests is a fast option towards accumulating those extra kilos of weight. Foods such as burgers, fries, chicken nuggets, sandwiches, milkshakes and ice creams, undoubtedly contain loads of fat to enhance their lip-smacking taste and flavour. To further increase the fat content most foods are deep fried in unhealthy oils, lard, butter, cottonseed oil and saturated oils thus elevating an individual’s recommended daily requirement of 65 grams of fat per day. These deposited as fat result in unhealthy medical conditions.



Most Junk foods are deep fried containing low nutritive value and typically oozing with high calories. The total quantity of calories consumed from food, determine the amount of energy derived from them. Generally one serving of junk food comprise of two days requirement of calories. For instance a hamburger provides 200 to 600 calories worth depending upon their size. Cheese and other addition such as ham contributes a 100 or 200 extra calories, while their accompaniments such as desserts, shakes, sodas, colas and French fries pile up another few calories that could be distressing. Salads, which come with the tag of a healthy alternative, too are unhealthy considering the meat bits and dressings heavily laden with calories. Unless the extra calories are burnt out, they deposit as fat leading to obesity related health issues.


Saturated fat and Trans Fats

SnacksTransfat created artificially through the hydrogenation of animal fats and plant oils found widely in fried junk foods and salad dressings are used for better consistency  and preserving the freshness for longer duration. Deficient in nutritive value, consumption of transfat, integrate damaged molecules into the body leading to chronic health problems.


Food products labelled hydrogenated fats are not devoid of transfat, contained in small quantities. Most fast foods fried in hydrogenated oil stocks transfat which the body absorbs immediately as fat and stores under the skin.


Packaged foods consisting of mayonnaise, chicken, French fries, cheese and other products contain unhealthy saturated fats amounting to 7% of the daily-required quantity of 2000 calories.


Acryl amides

The natural sugars and Asparagine, amino acids present in potatoes form a chemical acrylamides with cancer properties, when deep fried, roasted or baked in extremely high heat.


Lack of nutrients

The highly processed ready to serve quick bites, replenished with an assortment of additives and preservative, packed with fats and carbohydrates offer no nutritional value. They satisfy the immediate cravings of hunger pangs and do not offer anything by way of sustained energy. Research suggests that frequent consumption of junk foods make children miss their daily nutrition in the form of milk, fruits and vegetables, leading to a feeling of lethargy exhaustion and other deficiencies.


Junk food health risks

Regular consumption of junk food increase risk of developing a number of health complications, as listed below.



ObesityOne of the main reasons for obesity is the frequent consumption of junk foods that are convenient and pocket friendly. According to experts, piling up the plate with calorie-laden junk food may endanger life leading to multiple lifestyle diseases. Children leaning more towards junk food become obese, because of which they are subject to peer ridicule isolation and depression.


Blount’s Disease

Obesity in small growing up children is one of the main causes of Blount’s Disease. This is a growth disorder, when too much weight is positioned on the growing bones, especially in the lower half region. This leads to the lower leg being turned inward, akin to a bowleg.



A disease related directly to obesity, Dyslipidemia is an illness when the triglycerides and the LDL cholesterol levels sky rocket providing a greater risk of developing coronary heart disease.



ArthritisArthritis is a disease caused because of excessive strain on the joints. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a disease affecting solely the elderly. The best remedy to control weight gain.


Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Obese women in their reproductive age have chances of developing polycystic ovaries exhibiting symptoms such as insulin resistance (a primary cause for diabetes) excess hair growth and irregular menstruation.



Consumption of junk food and soft drinks heavily laden with sugar, sodium and fat make people obese with chances of developing of Type2 diabetes. This besides damaging the pancreas leads to an inability to supply adequate insulin converting sugar to energy, often leading to insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. The sugars that are not converted floats in the blood causing considerable damage. This leads to various health complications such as cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, renal failure and nerve disorders.


Cardiovascular disease 

Cardiovascular HealthA diet comprising of junk food contain transfat difficult to be digested by the body.  Hence, these get clogged resulting in plaque formation in the arteries leading to severe heart failure like Myocardial infarction. This causes damages to the heart and lacks proper supply, as there is a demand on the downstream for extra pumping of the heart with insufficient blood flow in the upstream.


High Cholesterol

Junk foods with abominable amounts of refined salt and sugars, saturated fat and transfat add on to unhealthy levels of cholesterol. These tend to elevate LDL cholesterol and decrease the levels of HDL cholesterol besides forming plaques and clogged arteries. These conditions, however lead to liver damage, stroke, chest pain, cardiac arrest and heart attacks.


High Blood Pressure

The body requires a considerable amount of sodium, the excessive of which is normally flushed out by the kidneys. However, intake of excessive sodium, unable to eliminate by the kidney will lead to its accumulation in the blood attracting fluid. This conditions that increases the blood volume exerts undue pressure on the heart as a consequence of which there is an occurrences of water retention, elevated blood pressure levels, renal and heart diseases. Hence most junk foods come packed with unhealthy high sodium content and transfat play an important role in developing risks of these conditions.


Liver damage

Increased calorie intake with ingredients such as cholesterol fat salt and sugar present in junk foods cause excessive damage to the liver. However, there are chances of a fat build up when the liver is unable to process the fats to the blood. Consumption of fat filled junk food does not get evenly distributed in the body making the liver function overtime often leading to damage, scarring and inflammation of the organ.



Junk foods with low dietary fibre and lack of nutritive value, is a main contributor towards breast and colorectal cancers


Calcium deficiency

Carbonated soda and beverages drain calcium levels, causing deficiencies in premenopausal women and children.



Junk foods with high sodium content increase blood pressure levels, thereby increasing stroke risk. Stroke occurs with a blockage in the artery carrying blood to the brain due to insufficient oxygen supply, cause permanent brain damage.


Gastrointestinal problems

Processed foods contain milk fat in abundance, which affects the intestines allowing the invasion of harmful bacteria. This results in irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.


Tooth decay

The sugary content in candies, baked products and colas cause tooth decay and cavities.



MigraineProcessed junk food containing artificial sweeteners and other additives such as MSG, nitrites and nitrates produce persistent headaches.



According to study, French fries and unhealthy potato chips containing acryl amide content reduce sperm count leading to infertility in men.



A diet rich in junk food lacking in all the vital nutrients and dietary fibre lead to increased thyroid symptoms, including weight gain, irritable syndrome depression and night sweats.


Brain health

Junk foods loaded with additives and unhealthy ingredients; do not protect the brain from ageing and shrinking as opposed to a diet rich in vitamins and omega3 fatty acids. This results in poor mental concentration, lack of energy, low IQ levels in growing up children, depression, mood swings, sleep, apnea, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, improper cognitive and thinking skills.


To conclude Junk food and so all the disadvantages of junk food cannot be eliminated from our lives. However, it would be wise to indulge in these delicacies once in a way to pamper the taste buds. Children, from a very young age should be encouraged to eat a balanced rich diet filled with nutritive values like greens, vegetables and fruits. Parents should take up the responsibility of educating the children regarding the repercussions and find ways and means of healthier options prepared at home. Restricting frequent eating out, is a sure good way to maintain the overall health of the family.

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