A quick meal at a fast-food restaurant can seem like a great option when eating out with friends. However, there is a big downside to this category of food which is cheaply and readily available. Did you know that eating junk food may harm your developing brain? There are many negative side effects of fast food on the body. Many fast-food restaurants focus on the process and efficiency instead of serving quality, nutritious foods.

What is considered fast food?

Fast food is highly processed, mass-produced food that is prepared quickly on a grill, fryer or microwave. It is poor in terms of nutrition. Some common items at fast food outlets include sandwiches, burgers, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, tacos, pizza, and hot dogs. Some popular Indian fast food varieties are Vada pav, Bread Tikki, Chaat, Bhajjis and Pakoras. There are many dangerous side effects of fast food. Read on to find out what they are.

Effects of Fast Food on Teens

Different foods can affect different people in different ways, but there are some ways how fast food affects the body:

  • Raise your blood pressure: Many fast-food items are packed with sodium (salty) which acts as a preservative and enhances the taste. The problem is that high-sodium diets are known to increase blood pressure, stiffen or narrow your blood vessels and become a risk for heart attack, stroke and heart failure.
  • Increase bloating: Eating meals that are high in sodium, high in fat or heavy with refined carbohydrates can leave you feeling bloated. If you add a soda to the meal, the carbonation can make it worse.
  • Increase cholesterol: Food that is fried in oil is high in fat. This can contribute to high saturated fats in your body, which can put you at risk for heart disease.
  • Digestive issues: Any bakery items (cakes, breads, croissants) might be delicious, but they are processed carbs with zero fibre. Dietary fibre is necessary as it flourishes your good gut bacteria and keeps you feeling full. Oily foods that cause digestive issues can also cause teenage acne.
  • Drain your energy: Taking carbohydrates and sugar will cause a spike in your blood sugar, prompting your body to produce a surge of insulin to bring it down quickly. This spike and crash can leave you feeling tired and cranky.
  • Affects brain development: Junk food shapes adolescent brains in ways that impair their ability to think, learn and remember. It can also make it harder to control impulsive behaviors and may even up depression and anxiety in teenagers.

Making healthier food choices

Although there are several unhealthy effects of fast food on teens, you can have it once in a while, like once a month. Also, not all fast food is bad. Certain menu items can be lower in sodium, and some fast food outlets focus on providing more healthy options.

Try to identify fast food items containing less salt, fat, sugar and carbohydrates and limit your consumption of fast food. Remember the old proverb “You are what you eat.”