Unhealthy processed foods such as French fries, hot dogs, burgers, pizzas, snacks, chips etc. are a potential health threat since they contribute to the increased prevalence of obesity and chronic disease among both developed countries and developing countries.
Obesity is becoming the largest public health concern as we enter the new millenium, especially among children. Obesity increases the risk for high cholesterol and fatty streak development, which translates into greater risk for cardiac disease and cardiovascular related disease such as high Blood Pressure and Diabetes.
One meal at a fast food restaurant may contribute a significant amount of fat and sodium for the day. For example, McDonald’s new Spanish omelet bagel contains 710 calories, 40 grams of fat, 275 mg of cholesterol and 1,520 mg of sodium. High fat diets and bigger portions in combination with decreased physical activity play major roles in the obesity epidemic.
The high salt content of fast foods also has many threats to the health problems associated with high blood pressure, strokes, and kidney function.
Monosodium glutamate (also known Ajinomoto) is in almost all processed foods and certainly in almost all fast food out there. All sorts of medical studies have revealed that Monosodium glutamate causes obesity, along with a lot of other nasty things. It's a chemical we should never put in our bodies, and yet it's something that is in virtually every processed food we buy whether it’s fast food or snacks.
All the techniques used to process food - canning, dehydrating and freezing - virtually destroy the flavor of food, so chemicals under the guise of "natural flavors" have been added to enhance the flavor, while color additives are added to make the foods look fresh. It might make the food look and taste better, but it's not doing much for our bodies
There is little evidence that if children eat fast food on a very limited basis they are going to have dietary or weight problems. The big problem is that most children eat fast food more than once a week.
It is apparent that fast foods are always a temptation because they are widely available, convenient and cheap, but as parents and educators it is important to set examples for children to emulate. Encouraging the consumption of a balanced diet, high in complex carbohydrates such as legumes, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may result in many health benefits. Parents and teachers can educate and empower children by involving them in creating simple, fun, and creative homemade alternatives.
The key is to limit your intake of fast foods-and choose wisely. Studies show the average fast food meal costs you 1,200 calories, but you can limit these drawbacks by keeping in mind the following guidelines / tips / alternatives:
1. Order grilled chicken sandwiches in place of fried chicken or fried fish sandwiches. Know the fat content of various food choices. For example, choose a grilled chicken sandwich without mayonnaise and a regular order of fries; or have a small hamburger or cheeseburger and skip the fries.
2. Avoid desserts, sweets, milk shakes, pies, etc.
3. To reduce fat calories, omit mayonnaise (one tablespoon=100 calories) add mustard, tomatoes, lettuce, pickles and /or onions as substitutes.
4. Avoid high-calorie beverages, such as regular soft drinks or milk shakes
5. Avoid fried foods. Calories can more than double in deep-fried foods.
6. Cut down on fat in fried foods by removing the outer coating before eating.
7. Order a small cheese pizza with low-calorie vegetables such as green peppers, onions or mushrooms, and eat just two or three pieces. Have a salad / garlic bread to help satisfy your appetite and boost fiber, nutrition and "fullness".
8. Eat lots of lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms. green peppers, carrots, celery and cucumbers.
9. Avoid french fries and opt for other sides like apples or a baked potato.