What are the Negative Effects of Fast Food on your Body?


It’s nearly impossible to not run into a fast-food chain wherever you go. Chains such as Chick-fil-A and Whataburger are everywhere. They sell the addictive, classic comfort foods of America, and they have every flavorful quickly produced meal you could think of. The average American spends about $1,200 a year on fast food, and about 71% of the adult American population is obese or overweight—but what does fast food exactly do to you? Fast food has many effects on your health, mainly due to the unhealthy contents of the food and the large amounts of fried and oiled components. 

Consumption of fast food has adverse effects on health, with long and short-term consequences. Some of the short-term consequences are easy to spot, such as increased blood pressure due to the large concentrations of sodium found in many fast-food items. However, not all of the short-term effects are noticeable. For example, fast food is actually addictive. Whenever you eat fast food, it trains your palate to enjoy those foods more than fresh foods. Fast food requires less chewing, and your mouth breaks down the food rapidly, causing your brain to signal pleasure rapidly as well. Eating foods like these also damages insulin sensitivity. 

The long-term effects are much lengthier, and they are more detrimental than the short-term effects. Fast foods are extremely low on nutrients, antioxidants, and fibers. Furthermore, they are high in sugars, salts, and trans fats, which makes them extremely dangerous for our digestive system to be breaking down on a daily basis. The most notable long-term effect of consuming fast food regularly is weight gain. Most of the calories in these foods are from carbohydrates, which do not make you feel full. So, after eating fast food, you will be hungry again after a couple of hours. 

What is important to note is that many Americans live in areas called food deserts, where the supply of healthy, organic foods is severely lacking. In places like these, it becomes even more apparent that fast food might be a cheaper and easier alternative to home-cooked meals. However, in these areas, “[the] vulnerable poor…also have double the risk of heart attack, double the risk of diabetes, and 4 times the risk of renal failure.” Scientists have found a way to identify the amount of years “lost” in certain areas, or how these habits in these areas can change the average lifespan of a person. For overweight diabetics in food deserts, this statistic is 45 years.

The importance of balancing one’s diet is essential to living a long and healthy life. Although picking up a meal from Chick-fil-A, McDonalds, or Whataburger is not life-threatening, it is imperative to enjoy these pleasures in moderation.