“The journey of a thousand pounds begins with a single burger.”
How do countries like China, India, Italy and Mexico bond with the West? With their famed cuisines! These cuisines have helped to evolve the notoriously famous ‘fast foods’, which have prompted taste buds, across the globe, to work overtime.
Fast food, as the world understands, is mostly a burger, a pizza, with various toppings or fillings, accompanied by French fries and washed down with cola. The present day need for speed is dictating terms on how we live and what we eat. People on-the-go find it easy to pick up food or have it delivered at their doorsteps, depending on whether they are too rushed or can spare a minute to “dial a pizza”.
Though fast food began with the quintessential burger and French fries in the US, it now includes various food types ranging from locally adapted versions of Mexican food to Chinese food, prepared with all types of meats. The basic requirement is that they be hot, tasty, cooked fast and served across a counter or delivered at the required place, be it office or home.
Why Fast Food is Bad Food?
Fast food culture has changed what we eat and how we eat it. Food is no longer savored but just serves as a stop- gap measure to silence the pangs of hunger before we move on to the next activity on our busy schedule. Quality has taken a back seat, and likewise the balance in nutrition .
Taste is still high on our priority and that is why popular fast food outlets cater to taste without giving so much of a thought to the harm that some of the ingredients cause. Food dripping with cheese, loaded with spices or deep-fried to please the palate, spell bad news for our metabolism.
Some of the points to be noted about fast food are:
- It is high in trans fats and calories
- It is low in fibers
- It makes extensive use of white flour, which lacks vital nutrients.
- Often eaten as snacks, in between meals, hence increases calorie intake.
- Triggers metabolic disorders, Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), heartburn, acidity and constipation.
- Fuels health hazards like obesity, dyslipidemia, diabetes and heart disease.
Meal Time, TV Time
Differing work schedules of people within a family have gone against traditional family meals that are becoming increasingly rare. With the invention of television came quick meals and what are considered, hassle-free TV dinners. For many busy people in the West, dinner is a ready- made frozen pack, in a mall freezer, that gets into a microwave for a couple of minutes at home before it is stuffed into the mouth, with eyes glued on the TV. Fast food just took them one step ahead.
Global Survey on Fast Food
Synovate, the research firm that surveyed the food habits and health in 13 countries, with special reference to fast food and obesity, found that UK topped the list in fast food consumption across the world. “I like the taste of fast food too much to give it up,” said many youngsters who were interviewed.
Percentage of people who are fast food eaters:
- UK: 45%
- US: 44%
- Canada: 37%
Percentage of people who reject fast food:
- France: 81%
- Singapore: 71%
The above data is proof enough that the high incidence of fast food need not necessarily be an indicator of development because developed countries like France and Singapore have said an emphatic ‘No’ to fast food. Naturally, the survey found that less than 30% of French are overweight and an even lesser 24% in Singapore are overweight.
As with everything else in human beings, the palate craves for something new all the time. That is how fast food has garnered public vote. It is new and it tastes different from home made food.
This fad did not pick up because of harried working women, who could not bothered to cook a meal anymore, but because of the children, teenagers and young adults who crave a different taste for every meal. They make a beeline for anything that is “very very tasty tasty,’ as one commercial puts it.
So the confusion is, which should go out first— the neon signs that lure us to fast food joints or our healthy food options that will send them out of business. The only way to veto the fast food market is to develop sensible eating habits that will promote a healthy life. As a first step we should review our changing lifestyles and put health and well being on top of our list of priorities.
Teaching young children to make sensible dietary choices and enforcing a healthy diet regimen in school goers will ensure a ‘slow’ but safe future for our future citizens!