Junk Food Pros and Cons


Junk food is a slang word for foods with limited nutritional value and a high level of sugar, salts, fats and calories. Every person has their own list of foods that they call junk foods. Salted snack foods, burgers, pizzas, fries, candy, gum, most sweet desserts, fried fast food and carbonated beverages are some of the major junk foods. Generally, they offer little in terms of protein, vitamins or minerals and lots of calories from sugar or fat. But is has often been a topic of debate that burgers, pizzas and few other foods can be considered as junk depending on their ingredients as well as method of preparation. Such foods containing a high amount of green and nutritious vegetable and cooked in a healthy manner can be a source of good nutrition if contain low fat oil and low amount of salts, however these are mainly taste centered and most of the times do not contain anything nutritious and in-fact are high on salts, fats and calories. Regular consumption of junk food is the major reason for obesity.

Junk food is a great rage among children, especially teenagers with even a lot of adults falling for these junk foods these days. Despite being labeled as "junk", consuming such foods usually does not pose any immediate health concerns and is generally safe when integrated into a well balanced diet. But poor hygiene maintained during the preparation and sub-standard quality of products used can lead to some major health problems. Junk food mainly affects human health due to concentrated sources of sugar or fat present in these foods which can increase weight if the calories are more than need of the person. Junk foods have taken a permanent residence in life of many as these are tasty, hassle free and easily available at any time. Also these are loaded with a lot of sodium salts and sugar to increase the shelf life of such foods. Hence at times these can pose a major health threat if consumed on a regular basis, however having these food items just in a while for a taste change is a good idea but in routine can be dangerous.

Effects of Junk Foods

Junk food nutrition should make up a minimal part of a healthy diet. Fast foods and junk foods are high in fat, sodium and sugar, which can lead to obesity and a range of attendant health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Regular consumption of junk foods and soft drinks shows a negative effect on our health. It has been observed that junk food consumption in our country is rising at an alarmingly high rate from past few years, which is also leading to some serious health problems among school going children, especially teenagers and even in adults. Some harmful effects of junk food are:

Obesity:

Obesity is one of the major health threats resulting from the regular consumption of junk food. Junk food contains large amounts of fats and sugars, and as these fats start accumulating in your body, you tend to gain weight and could become obese if consuming such foods regularly. The sugar and calorie from junk food does not give any energy, in fact start accumulating in the human body. The more weight you gain, the more you'll be at risk for serious chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. With increasing obesity you could even be at risk of a heart attack.

Damage to liver and heart:

Excessive consumption of fast food also poses a threat to your heart and liver. The high levels of fat and sodium in junk food and fast food can contribute to heart disease by raising blood cholesterol levels and contributing to arterial plaque buildup. The high levels of Trans fatty acids found in many junk foods and fast foods can lead to fatty liver deposits, which, over time, can cause liver dysfunction and disease.

Habit forming:

Junk food is highly habit forming; regular consumption of burgers, soft-drinks and pizzas may lead to addiction. The fats, sugar and salt in fast food have a unique taste of their own and tend to draw kids like a magnet, largely because they appeal to a child’s primordial tastes. At times this habit can be really harmful and may continue for years. There are many people who became obsessed and are so much addicted to junk food that they cannot eat anything else besides these foods with high salt, sugar and calorie level. From an evolutionary point of view, humans are hard-wired to crave high-calorie food as a survival mechanism, so each time we see, smell or eat junk food, many chemicals and neurotransmitters are released in our body that encourage you to eat more.

Puts you off healthy food:

Once you form a habit of eating junk food, it is also possible that you may move away from healthy foods. The artificial taste of junk food that contains high amounts of salts and oil is highly addictive and people who are used to spicy junk food may have trouble adjusting themselves to healthy foods. Junk food tends to replace other, more nutritious, foods. When children are snacking on chips and cookies, they’re usually not having enough fruits and vegetables, which will decrease their vitamin C and fibre intakes also once you have these junk foods there is no space left in your stomach to have fresh fruits and vegetables or anything healthy.

Disadvantages of Junk Food

Junk food if taken regularly can be really harmful, however if balanced with a healthy diet and limited intakes it can be a good change but eating these kind of foods regularly is sure a problem. Filling your diet with junk food causes an array of problems in your body. Junk food is often high in sugar, fat and calories, while providing very few nutrients. You can treat yourself to some ice cream or your favorite candy bar once in awhile, but keep your portions to a minimum. As long as one is strong enough to find and use some sort of balance when it comes to eating junk food every now and then, on the rarest of occasions, the negative effects of this type of food can be significantly diminished. There are a lot of disadvantages related to junk food and on top the risk of having a stroke counts among one of the most serious types of health threats related to junk food. Junk food that is extremely rich in sodium or salt can produce massive changes in the circulatory system, boosting one’s blood pressure and hence increasing one’s risk of suffering from a stroke.

A stomach problem is yet another health risk associated with the junk food. Better referred to as gastrointestinal issues, these are prone to occur when eating too much junk food. The overly processed junk food does not contain a great deal of fibers which are very important as they encourage healthy bowel movement. Any kind of disorder cause by the lack of sufficient fiber in the body can cause a lot of unbalances, leading to anything from constipation to irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis and other gastrointestinal problems. Other disadvantages associated with consuming junk food are:

  • Obesity
  • Heart problem
  • Addiction towards junk food
  • Decreases bone and tooth strength
  • Constipation and irritation
  • Risk of diabetes
  • Mood swings
  • Artery blockage
  • Lowering energy level among kids

Junk Food Facts

We all know that junk food are source of high salt, sugar, oils and calories as well as their regular consumption can be really harmful for our health too. As discussed earlier the harmful effects of junk food includes obesity, heart risks, blocked arteries etc. but still if you are interested in junk food then it is worth noting few facts about junk foods:

  • Eating smaller meals may not harm you
  • Having a minimum amount of junk food just for change can be good for your digestion
  • Buying better quality food can reduce health risk considerably
  • Exercise more often if you eat junk food
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables to compensate for the unhealthy content of junk food
  • Join a gym to burn excess calories
  • Consume healthier food to prevent health loss

Types of Junk Food

Junk food can be any food item that contains huge amounts of salts and sugars. Also the energy and protein content of these foods is almost zero as these are high on oil fats and calories. Usually we consider soft drinks, burgers, pizzas and ice-creams etc. as junk foods. However their different types include:

Fried food:

Fried foods occupy the large percentage of junk food items. Fried food generally contains a large quantity of heat, oil and fat and can cause artery blockage as well as some other serious health risks. Often eating such kind food will easily lead to obesity and coronary heart disease. During the frying process, it often produces a lot of carcinogenic substances that are really harmful for human body. Some studies have shown that, people who often eat fried food are more likely to suffer from cancer. Also frying again and again in same oil also leads to many health hazards.

Canned food:

Canned foods also form a part of junk food, no matter canned fruits or canned meat these all are included in the category of junk food. Upon canning food items a lot of preservatives are added to increase shelf-life and most of the nutrients are destroyed, especially various kinds of vitamins. In addition, the protein contained in canned products is often denatured, which greatly reduces the absorption rate and nutritional value of the food. Also these foods contain large amounts of salts to prevent food items from getting rotten which may lead to high blood pressure.

Cream products:

Yet another form of fast food includes cream products. Often eating cream products can increase your weight, and even increase the content of blood glucose and blood fat. These are rich in sugars and saturated fats, eating a lot of cream products before meal can reduce the appetite. What's worse, if you eat cream product with an empty stomach, it may lead to heartburn and other serious symptoms. These also tend to make you fat and can even cause irritation while sleeping.

Preserved food:

Most unhealthy form of food is preserved food which also comes under the category of junk food. Preserved food always contains a lot of salt, so often eating such kind food will cause great burden on the kidney, which may increase the risk of hypertension. For package purpose these are also mixed with chemicals which at times can be harmful for human health. In addition, preserved food contains a kind of carcinogenic substance nitrosamine, which may increase the risk of malignant tumors. Also consuming such products can lead to ulcers.

Should Junk Food be Banned in Schools

There have been constant debates on this topic from past few years that whether the junk food should be banned in schools or not and there have been arguments from both the sides, in favor as well as from those against banning fast food in schools. With the increase of childhood obesity and diabetes being diagnosed in young children, officials are turning towards public schools for the solution. Research analysts have found a close relation between health problems among school going kids and junk food. There are a lot of health problems that have been caused due to junk food. Those against banning these foods in schools argue that you cannot really force anyone, if you ban these things in school there are still items available in the market and children start to smuggle these food items in our lunch boxes. You can’t really stop any student from eating his lunch. Few arguments provided in favor of banning junk food and against are:

In favor:

Those in the favor of banning junk food from schools argue that:

  • Parents should monitor a child’s diet, but while a student is away from their parents, the school must function as a parent and do what is best for the students. While the parents cannot be there to oversee student’s meals, a school should make sure those meals do not include junk food.
  • Eating lots of sugary food makes students less able to pay attention in class or perform well on tests.
  • Junk food should be banned because it can make you fat and you can get sick from it and it is the worst when you get sick.
  • In children it can also lead to weakening of bones and teeth.
  • Poor eating habits at an early age lead to a lifetime of real health consequences. Kids need to stay fit so that they can participate in physical education and live in a healthy environment.
  • Schools should set a good example of nutritious eating for students. This would fit in well with nutrition curriculum in health classes.
  • Soda and junk food can be replaced with more-nutritious alternatives, if not junk food then children can have a healthy habit of eating fruits instead of candies and juice instead of soft drink.

Against:

Those against the banning of junk food from schools argue that:

  • You can ban junk food from school but not in market, rather doing so will lead to students smuggling such foods from outside.
  • An important part of education is learning to make good choices. An across-the-board junk-food ban does not teach young people how to make healthy choices; it simply removes some of their options.
  • Students should be allowed to make decision of their own.
  • If a student forgets to bring his lunch he does not have to starve for whole day, instead he has an option for once in a while.
  • Instead of putting restrictions, school should teach student harmful effects of such foods and also encourage students to exercise to remain healthy.  
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