A startling quarter of deaths in the UK are now caused by cardiovascular diseases. Be it a stroke, coronary heart disease, peripheral artery disease or aortic disease; we could all be in danger. Britain has the 58th largest waistline amongst 81 other countries throughout the world, and our guts are ever-growing. Many newspapers have speculated that if we don’t look after our waistlines now, then half of the UK’s men will be obese by 2030.
Some of the blame for this looming pandemic is the worlds’ ongoing relationship with food, particularly fast food. With McDonald’s situated temptingly at every corner, and a local burger joint planted right beside your house, it seems only natural to grab something while on the go. These days people have lots of disposable cash, and it’s easier to buy from the local takeaway than go home and cook your own food after a long day slogging. For many KFC and Pizza Hut are simple, easy and more fun! But, are they healthier?
According to a study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: after 15 years those of us that eat fast food more than twice a week will gain an extra 10 pounds, and have increased our insulin resistance two-fold. We may also find ourselves at serious risk of type 2 diabetes as a result.
Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease.
Supersize Me, the documentary where presenter Morgan Spurlock subsists on just McDonald’s for an entire month is particularly relevant. The result of Morgan’s experiment was an ill, chubby and decidedly unhealthy man. Morgan showed the public just how unhealthy fast food is, doubling his cholesterol and hugely increasing his insulin resistance. By the end of the month he certainly was not ‘lovin’ it’, and was definitely luggin’ it instead. McDonald’s itself is aware of the unhealthy nature of its vitals, and has attempted to appease the public with its new ‘healthier’ range.
Mark Pereira, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota commented that:
‘it’s extremely difficult to eat in a healthy way at a fast-food restaurant. Despite some of their recent healthful offerings, the menus still tend to include foods high in fat, sugar and calories and low in fibre and nutrients’.
Fast food chains cannot take all the blame. Everywhere there are cheap food deals being advertised. Supermarkets over-promote their least healthy products, pushing their most sugary and fatty commodities forward to catch the shoppers’ eye.
Poor heath, ballooning waistlines and possible cardiovascular diseases are inevitable. The food industry seems intent on selling what is cheapest, and most unhealthy. It is easy to believe that all the blame lies elsewhere; after all, franchises and supermarkets care only for the most effective way to pawn their wares to the customer. But consumers have a large say too. It’s safe to say that cheaper food is preferable to the higher priced items. However, although cheaper products may be easier on the pocketbook, they are not necessarily the most healthy option.
When considering the consumer lifestyle that society has adopted, it’s easy to see how cheap deals and two for one offers are more attractive to the everyday consumer. Is it reasonable to expect the average person to pay through the nose for the best of the best? Eating healthy does not mean paying a premium for food stuffs, little changes can make all the difference.