Fast food is an affordable and convenient way to fill yourself up when on the run. Although you shouldn't feel guilty for an occasional indulgence, regularly eating fast food can seriously damage your health. Coupled with low nutritional value, the high fat, calorie and sodium content of these foods can lead to a variety of health problems. With statistical associations to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions and all-cause mortality, regularly eating fast food can be a dangerous thing.
Weight Gain and Obesity
A typical fast food meal is extremely high in fat and calories. Weight gain occurs when you consume more calories than you burn in a day. In a 2004 study published in "The Lancet," researchers found that eating more than twice per week at fast food restaurants is linked to significantly more weight gain over time than occasional visits. Similarly, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley in 2009 noted that living near a fast food restaurant is linked to a 5.2 percent greater risk of obesity.
Type 2 Diabetes The 2004 study noted that regularly eating fast food doubles your chance of developing insulin resistance, which heightens risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The number of people worldwide living with diabetes has more than doubled since 1980, from 153 million then to nearly 350 million in 2011, according to a report in "The Guardian."
Cardiovascular Conditions Higher densities of fast food restaurants are linked to a greater risk of cardiovascular health problems. In a 2005 study published in the "Canadian Journal of Public Health," researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Ontario, Canada found that regions with high concentrations of fast food restaurants are 2.62 times more likely to have extremely high levels of hospitalization for coronary problems. A 2010 study by researchers at the University of South Australia supported this. Their findings, published in the "European Journal of Epidemiology," indicated that, for each 10 percent increase in the density of fast food restaurants in a region, people are 1.39 times more likely to die from a cardiovascular condition.
All-Cause Mortality Fast food is associated with an increased risk of death even after ruling out deaths due to cardiovascular conditions. In its 2005 study, the Canadian research team noted that regions high in fast food restaurant density are 2.52 times more likely to be extremely high in all-cause mortality. Similarly, the researchers at the University of South Australia in 2010 noted that each 10 percent increase in the concentration of fast food restaurants in a region is linked to a 1.36 times greater risk of all-cause mortality.