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Junk Food - Killing Ourselves With Kindness

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Junk Food - Killing Ourselves With Kindness

Fellow students or ladies and gentlemen,

Junk food is everywhere. There are more than 300,000 fast food outlets in the US alone. The food they are selling us is low in nutrition and high in calories. Junk food is popular, fast and convenient. Nutritional experts regularly tell us how bad it is for us, yet we can't seem to get enough of it. Junk food is called that because it is high in calories, sodium, fat and cholesterol. It is everything the doctor didn't order.

Call it junk food, fast food or processed food, we are eating more of it than ever before. Over 90% of the money we spend on food is spent on processed foods. The cost is more illness and soaring healthcare problems. The cost is a nation that is becoming obese and overweight. In combination with increasingly sedentary lifestyles, our diet of junk food is slowly killing us while we believe we are doing ourselves a kindness.

Junk food is items such as fried chicken, burgers, hot dogs and pizza. Listed among junk food are some of our nation's favourite snacks. These include chocolate, French fries, most deserts, sweets and gum and all washed down with soda. Junk food means our doughnuts, cheeseburgers, taco style meals and the snacks we love to munch on. The fact is the very things we love the most are, in fact, the very things that are doing us serious damage. It is thought that half of all Americans have cholesterol levels that are dangerously high.

Obesity rates have soared in the last twenty years. Over 70 million Americans are affected. Obesity is caused by two things. The first is a lack of activity and exercise and the second is consuming more calories than we need. Those calories come from the food we eat and that food is overwhelmingly junk food.

Nutritional experts say that, on average, a man needs 2,700 calories a day to maintain a desirable weight. A woman, who is not pregnant or breastfeeding, needs slightly less at 2,000. To lose weight, you simply have to take in fewer calories than you burn. It sounds simple but it rarely is. The junk food we eat regularly is piled high with calories. One average junk food meal loads us down with more than a 1000 calories straight away. On top of that it will add more sodium or salt than we could possibly use, along with cholesterol to clog up our arteries. As well as this junk food is saturated fat. An average burger or pizza meal will contain at least 30g of fat and perhaps as much as 50g. Every 5g of fat means you are eating the equivalent of one teaspoon of fat. That means in that one burger or pizza meal you are putting six to ten teaspoons of fat into your body.

We are eating ourselves into early graves with lives blighted by obesity and illness. High fat content food means high blood cholesterol levels. That means a hardening of the arteries. It means more heart disease. It means more strokes and possibly a rise in some types of cancers such as breast cancer or cancer of the colon. Yet more than ever we are content to gorge ourselves on these nutrient poor snacks and sweets. Astoundingly, junk food kills as many Americans as tobacco.

It is difficult for us to change these habits, yet we must if we are to reverse this tide of sluggishness and obesity. Did you realise that junk food can even clog up your brain? Scientists have made connections between the amount of fat in diets and slow brain activity. To get some idea of the struggle we are up against, consider the million or so dollars the government might spend in a year persuading us to eat more fruit and vegetables. These are foods that are high in nutrients and low in cholesterol, calories and fats. A single burger chain might spend upwards of a billion dollars persuading us to eat its fast food products.

It is difficult for us to escape the tempting aromas of some fast foods. There is no doubt about it, we find fast food sorely tempting. Fast food outlets are literally everywhere. Not just restricted to restaurants or takeaways, we have access to fast food wherever we are, whether it's the mall, at the game or at the cinema. Gas stations have become 24 hr junk food dispensers, with whole sections of their shelves given over to fast foods and unhealthy snacks.

Children, in particular, are bombarded with images, free gifts and the constant marketing of fast food giants. Our school and college campuses have become stuffed with vending machines on the back of so-called sponsorship deals. These deals only guarantee that more students become junk food addicts.

Research has shown that we now eat far less fibre in our diets and to a large extent this fibre has been replaced with unhealthy fats. Fibre is found in complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, wholegrain cereals as well as in beans, peas and lentils.

Fast food is very definitely a part of our busy lives. Yet we must learn to regulate the things that we eat. Indeed even some fast food options offer healthier and lower fat alternatives. Why not choose small fries and water instead of large fries and a soda? There's a choice that we can all make that will make a difference to our well-being and even our lives. The sugar boost that many snacks give us is a temporary fix. Shortly afterwards we return to feeling sluggish and comatose. Why don't we snack on things that are not only good for us but also make us actually feel good?

There are many foods that are just as fast and convenient that are actually packed



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