The Disadvantages of Junk Foodby Natalie Smith
When it comes to junk food, everyone has their guilty pleasures. Junk food in moderation is not necessarily going to lead to poor health for you or your family. However, there are marked disadvantages to eating junk food that you should consider before you reach for that bag of chips or package of snack cakes.
One major problem with eating junk foods is that they tend to replace healthy foods. For example, when you eat chips or cookies, you are not eating grapes or carrot sticks. Similarly, when you drink soda, you are not drinking water, green tea, or healthy, no sugar added fruit or vegetable juices. The junk food habit can be especially problematic for children because they rely on parental guidance for a healthy diet. If junk food is too readily available, many children will choose it over healthy snacks without understanding the damage they are doing to their health.
Consuming junk food also leads to overeating. Most junk foods are low in satiation value, meaning that they do not fill you up. As a result, you or your family may eat much more than one serving of junk food at one sitting, and you may eat several times more calories, grams of carbohydrates and grams of fat than you would if you were enjoying a healthy snack or meal.
It is a simple fact that when you consume more calories than you use through activity, you will gain weight. Because junk foods have more calories and fat than healthy foods, they can contribute to obesity in both adults and children. The availability of junk food may also contribute to childhood obesity, which has doubled since the 1980s. The availability of junk food in schools has a direct effect on the body mass index of children, according to a recent study commissioned by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Schools that make junk food readily available have students with higher BMIs, according to the study.
Another surprising finding is that junk food may actually be addictive. The body actually begins to crave salt, sugar and fat, according to some experts, which makes it hard to stop eating junk foods. Some critics claim that food scientists in junk food companies know this and specially formulate foods to get consumers hooked on them. Some industry experts compare the addictiveness of junk food to that of cigarettes and have called for major manufacturers of junk foods to make their options more healthy.
- Web MD: Junk-Food Facts
- Harvard Health Blog: Think Fast When Kids Want Junk Food
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: What Causes Overweight and Obesity?
- The National Bureau of Economic Research: Junk Food Availability in Schools Raises Obesity
- The New York Times Magazine: The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food
- AARP The Magazine: Why Junk Food is Addictive
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images