The first fast-food chain ever opened was White Castle (Wichita, Kansas), founded in 1921. Hamburgers were then also sold at circuses, fairs, and from carts, and were considered to be of a very low quality. The first highly successful, largest and widely known chain of fast-food restaurants is in fact McDonald’s. However, they will end this year with more restaurants closed than opened, which will happen for the first time since 1970. Naturally, all of the world’s most recognizable fast-food brands, aim to create and increase the value of their companies, restaurateurs, and shareholders. They aim for success.
Fact and Figures
However, the food is prepared in no time, served immediately, and is incredibly cheap. The burger you get at a McDonald’s in Chicago is completely identical to the one you get at a McDonald’s in Minneapolis or Los Angeles, making food consummation a rather impersonal experience. McDonald’s serves 26 million people every day, which is more than the entire population of Australia.
Foods that are considered “junk” or “fast” contain lots of calories, have little nutritional value, and are low in satiation value. The third item on this list is the most interesting, meaning that people do not tend to feel full after consuming the food. It is a problem which can easily lead to overeating and obesity. Junk food tends to replace food which is more nutritious and beneficial to people’s health.
Consuming junk food has various negative consequences on one’s health. According to this WebMD article, the lapse in the part of the brain involved in self-restraint is associated with cravings for unhealthy junk food. Eating junk food on a regular basis can:
– Cause type 2 diabetes (huge amounts of sugar affect the body’s insulin sensitivity).
– Increase the risk of heart disease, since junk food is packed with trans and saturated fats that contribute to plaque formation and heart disease, by increasing bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
– Cause depression among teenagers – teenagers are susceptible to mood swings due to various hormonal changes, and a healthy diet is important for maintaining a hormonal balance. Junk food lacks in essential nutrients, so the risk of depression is increased.
– Cause fatigue, weakness, fluctuations in blood sugar levels, kidney disease, increase the risk of heart disease and cancer, and trigger digestive problems.
A Silver Lining?
On the other hand, we cannot say that things are not getting any better. The situation is changing, and there are several trends that give us hope. The rise of healthy fast food restaurants, and mobile restaurants lead by young, innovative and exciting chefs with agility and vision are changing the field of nutrition. They bring excellent, high quality food at lower prices.
If you want to make a quick meal yourself, there are proven ways to create healthier fast food meals, and suppress existing food craving. Fast-food chains like Chipotle are turning away from soybean oil to rice bran oil.
Those who try to point out the junk food issue are sadly still just a vocal minority. The ultimate goal is to raise a generation of people that understands the difference between healthy and cheap fast food. However, that would not be possible with all the setbacks in the majority of education systems around the world, because education needs to play an important part in making this change.
The younger part of the population often links the terms “healthy” and “boring”, but they need to understand what their food is, while we should strive to make it more accessible, enjoyable, and fun, and raise that to a mainstream level. People do not want to visit restaurants where they will be told what to eat.
The fact is that there are much healthier food choices nowadays than there were ten years ago. The key is in maintaining that, and expanding the awareness of the consequences of junk food.