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The phrase “fast food” invokes thoughts of cheap, delicious and convenient meals. However, the truth is that these words can be deceiving.
Compared to home-cooked food, junk food is much richer in calories, fats, and carbohydrates, all of which promote weight gain when consumed in large quantities. For example, McDonald’s “Angus Bacon & Cheese,” which can satisfy the hunger of a normal teenage boy, contains one-third of the normal daily calorie content of every individual. On the other hand, the same quantity of food in baked potatoes is no more than 220 calories, which is equal to one-tenth of a person’s calorie ration per day. Also, half of the calories in convenience foods come from fat, which is becoming a serious threat to the modern man. Spending lunch breaks in a amongst junk food increases an individual’s chances of falling ill with lethal diseases, such as heart attacks and Type 2 diabetes.
When asked about their opinion on junk food, most people answer that it is not a problem for them to eat it once or twice a week. Few are those who say that they are waiting on the queues of McDonald’s, KFC, or Burger King every day. Unfortunately, the number of people who consider themselves strongly against the consumption of junk food is even smaller.
The problem is not that people are unaware of the harmful effects of fast food on their health. However, it is a common misconception in most parts of the world that it is less expensive than self-prepared food. In his article “Is junk food really cheaper?” New York Times columnist Mark Bittman reveals: “hyperprocessed food remains more expensive than food cooked at home.” According to Bittman, feeding a menage of four with convenience food may cost from $23 to $28. On the other hand, buying the same amount of raw chicken and potatoes and preparing them at home, according to the Times, is around $14- half the price of a similar menu at McDonald’s.
Although most people claim that they buy junk food because it is cheaper, specialists in this sphere agree that money does not motivate people to eat unhealthy food. Nowadays, consumers buy junk food mainly because it is much more convenient for them to not have to spend time shopping and then cooking at home. The average American adult works about eight hours a day, which doesn’t always allow for him or her to meet all of the household duties. Of course, passing through some convenience-food place on your way home after work can seem like the perfect alternative to preparing home meals.
Others point out that those who live far away from food markets are forced to consume the nearest available, and often unhealthy, food they can find. In the 21st century it is laughable for people to claim that isolation is the main reason for them to consume junk food. Although a recent study showed the discouraging a truth, that “there are five fast-food restaurants for every supermarket in the United States.” This doesn’t mean that people are not given the chance to choose whether to live healthily, or to continue spending time in the dining halls of junk-food restaurants.
Recent studies have shown that humans have become much more aware of the fact that they should consume more nutritious food, if they want to be healthy. However, according to the Director of Nutritional Policy with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Margo Wootan, it is still impossible to convince some people that fruits and vegetables are more beneficial and less expensive than products rich in fat, salt, or sugar. “If they buy a bag of chips for $2, they think it is a good deal, but if they buy a bag of apples for $2, they think it’s a lot,” Ms. Wootan commented.
The inclination to consume fast food is accepted as one of the major problems people face today. Whether we will solve it or not depends entirely on us. However, one thing is clear: serious measures have to be taken soon, in order for us to prevent the ceaseless progress of the “junk-food epidemic” that is affecting the modern world.