I eat fast food everyday

More than one-third of American adults eat fast food on any given day, despite warnings about its impact on health and obesity, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Wednesday. The rate is especially high for young adults and gradually drops with age.

“Fast-food consumption has been associated with increased intake of calories, fat and sodium,” the CDC noted while reporting the prevalence of what medical experts have long considered an unhealthy eating habit, often associated with diabetes and heart disease.

But it’s cheap, quick, convenient and readily available, the report added, explaining fast food’s lasting popularity.

The study, the first federal examination of adult fast-food eating habits, is based on a survey of about 10,000 adults from 2013 to 2016.

Almost half (44.9 percent) of 20- to 39-year-olds eat fast food on a given day, the survey found. The rate drops to 37.7 percent for those ages 40 to 59 and to 24.1 percent for those 60 and older.

Older men (25.6 percent) are slightly more likely than older women (22.7 percent) to make fast food a daily habit.

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10 Facts and Statistics About The Fast Food Industry

We’ve all heard the sayings. “Fast food isn’t good for you,” “After Super Size Me I couldn’t look at McDonald’s the same way,” etc.

With the recent health food craze in the last five years, it’s easy to assume that fast food is on a fast decline. What most people don’t realize, however, is that it’s quite the opposite. Fast food statistics show that this industry is alive and thriving.

Here’s 10 fast food industry statistics that show that fast food has no intention of slowing down.

1) Annual Fast Food Revenue in the US is $110 Billion (source)

Let’s face it, based off of statistics, there’s a good chance that you or a loved one has eaten fast food this week.

2) 50 Million Americans Fast Food Every Day (source)

According to the Pew Research Center, there are 50 million Americans who eat fast food everyday. That’s roughly 1 in 7 people!

3) A Third of Children Eat Fast Food on a Daily Basis (source)

34 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 19 consume fast food daily. Studies show that although newer generations have emphasized an importance of eating “clean food”, they would rather eat fast food than a full service restaurant.

4) The Fast Food Consumption Rate Hasn’t Changed in 15 Years (source)

Though most may assume that the popularity of fast food is slowing down thanks to the rise of fast casual, this industry is far from its decline. In fact, its consumption rate hasn’t changed in 15 years. To stay competitive with the growing trend of healthy eating, many chains have begun to change their menus to stay in line with the trend of “healthy eating.”

5) A Fast Food Meal is 37% of Your Daily Calories (source)

While fast food may be an easy option for when you’re in a rush, its nutritional content definitely will not provide you the energy you need for the rest of the day. On average, a fast food meal is worth 37% of your daily calorie intake. It makes up 42.6% of your carb intake for the day, 33.6% of daily fat, and 15.4% of daily protein. That’s roughly 3 chicken tenders at KFC and maybe a sip of soda if you’re lucky.

6) McDonald’s Is Making Cleaner Food (source)

In 2015, McDonald’s finally made a pledge to stop serving chicken that is raised on human antibiotics by 2017. The FDA has been cracking down on farmers and ranchers to reduce the use of antibiotics when raising livestock. Though this is a huge step for McDonald’s – they’re still behind the times in this movement. Panera and Chipotle began their shift from antibiotics almost ten years ago.

In addition, McDonald’s has stopped serving buns with high fructose corn syrup and begun to limit the artificial preservatives in their food. It’s unsure as to whether these ingredient changes are driven by the FDA or a shift in consumer needs. Either way, they’re doing what it takes to stay competitive with both other fast food chains, and the quickly growing fast casual market.

7) The Average Menu Item Is 12% Lower Than It was in 2013 (source)

Surprisingly enough, the nutritional content of a fast food meal is actually lower than it was in 2012. In 2013, fast food restaurants decreased their menu item’s calories by 12% which is a 60 calorie average.

McDonald’s kick started this movement in 2013 by making yet another pledge to improve their menu in 20 of the largest market’s, which makes up 85% of their total sales (source). Though they announced that the menu changes would be finished by 2020, it’s apparent that they have already made a huge impact on improving the fast food industry.

8) McDonald’s Owns 35,000 Locations (source)

In our 55 Little-Known Fun Facts About The Restaurant Industry post, we learned that McDonald’s sells 75 hamburgers a second. But did you know that McDonald’s has more locations than Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Arby’s combined?

9) McDonald’s Is More Recognized than the Christian Cross (source)

To say that McDonald’s is a powerhouse is an understatement. Recent studies actually show that the McDonald’s arches is more globally recognizable than the Christian cross. 7,000 people were surveyed throughout six different countries, and 88% were able to identify the McDonald’s logo, whereas only 54% identified the Christian cross.

10) Children See 3-5 Fast Food Ads Per Day (source)

It’s no surprise that McDonald’s arches are more recognizable than the Christian cross when kids are exposed to five fast food ads everyday. We can all sing the “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle on command, and can pick out the Wendy’s girl from a crowd. The mouthwatering commercials have more of an effect on children than you might think. The perceived food quality in commercials in combination with the affordable price can make anyone want to ditch their $10 salad for a Happy Meal.

Fast Food in 2017

As food trends quickly shift to healthier options, it appears that the fast food industry is keeping up the pace. This booming industry wins the hearts of 50 million Americans every day. The current generation of kids are growing up in a generation where fast food can be inexpensive and healthy. Having already seen improvements in the past 4 years, it’s exciting to see where the industy will be by 2020.

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More than a third of U.S. adults eat what the Centers for Disease Control terms fast food on “any given day,” according to a new study. But who eats fast food is more telling.

Fast-food consumers are more likely to be younger and wealthier. They’re more likely to be male and African-American, and they like lunch more than any other day part.

The study analyzed eating habits between 2013 and 2016. Researchers asked consumers whether they ate fast food over the previous 24-hour period. For the study, pizza is included in the fast-food definition.

Such studies can be flawed—consumers, for instance, may underreport their fast-food eating habits or they don’t recall what they ate.

Yet the results provide some interesting findings about who eats fast food, and when. And they confirm what Technomic and other sources have long said.

They have higher incomes

Arguably the most surprising finding in the study is that the higher the income, the more likely a person is to eat from a quick-service restaurant.

Only 31.7% of adults in households at 130% of the federal poverty level or less, which for a family of four would be $31,590, reported eating fast food on any given day. But 36.4% of Americans making 130% to 350% of the federal poverty level ($31,590 to $85,050 for a family of four) eat fast food on any given day. And 42% of those making more than 350% of the federal poverty level eat fast food.

For all the surprise, however, consumers with higher incomes have more money they can use to eat out. And the restaurant industry has spent much of the past decades giving wealthy people reasons to dine at restaurants, with concepts like Shake Shack, Sweetgreen, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread, among others, catering to people with higher incomes.

Older people eat out less

Age is another major factor in whether someone eats out a lot—arguably the single, biggest factor.

Nearly 45% of Americans age 20 to 39 eat fast food on any given day. By the time they’re 60 and over, however, that percentage plunges to 24.1%.

As consumers age, they retire and eat at home more often. And older consumers are more aware of health concerns associated with traditional fast-food chains. In addition, many of the upstart restaurant chains have been catering to younger consumers for a long time.

Who eats fast food?

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looks at who eats fast food how often. The study surveyed adults on whether they ate at a fast-food or pizza restaurant over a 24-hour period. The graphics show the percentage of adults who eat fast food “any given day.”

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Men eat more fast food

This is also no surprise, but men, and particularly younger men, are huge users of fast-food restaurants.

According to the study, 38% of men eat fast food on any given day, compared with 35.4% of women.

Young men are particularly big users, with 46.5% of men 20 to 39 eating fast food, compared to 43.3% of women the same age.

African-American women (43%) are more likely than African-American men (41.8%) to use fast food, according to the CDC.

Lunch is still king

Consumers are more likely to eat fast food at lunch than they are any other daypart. But who eats differs considerably.

According to the study, 43.7% of consumers ate fast food at lunch, compared with 42% at dinner, 22.6% snacks and 22.7% breakfast.

But that was largely because men like lunch: 48.3% of them said they ate fast-food lunch, compared with just 39.1% of women.

That gap didn’t exist at dinner, when 42.1% of men ate fast food and 41.9% of women did.

More than a quarter of women (25.7%) prefer fast-food snacks, compared to 19.5% of men.

And they also like quick-service breakfast: 23.8% of women ate breakfast, compared with 21.5% of men.

News Pizza Quick Service

Nearly 37 percent of Americans regularly eat fast food, study shows

Atlanta — Every day, more than 1 in 3 U.S. adults eat some type of restaurant fast food, according to a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Researchers reviewed 2013-2016 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that, overall, 36.6 percent of adults – about 85 million – consumed fast food, including pizza, on a given day. The percentage was higher for people between the ages of 20 and 39 (44.9 percent) and 40 and 59 (37.7 percent). Those 60 and older were least likely to consume fast food, at 24.1 percent.

Although fast-food consumption decreased with age, it rose along with family income. Among lower-income adults (equal to or less than 130 percent of the federal poverty level), 31.7 percent consumed fast food on a given day. As family earnings rose to middle income (130 percent to 350 percent of FPL), consumption jumped to 36.4 percent. Of those in the high-income range (more than 350 percent of FPL), 42 percent consumed fast food on a given day.

Other findings:

  • The most common fast-food meal purchased was lunch (43.7 percent), followed by dinner (42) and breakfast (22.7).
  • Time, financial resources, price and availability factored most in influencing fast-food purchases.
  • Men (48.3 percent) were more likely than women (39.1) to eat fast food for lunch.
  • Women (25.7 percent) were more likely than men (19.5) to consume fast food for a snack.

Fast-food consumption has been associated with increased intake of calories, fat and sodium, which can lead to obesity, diabetes and other health issues, according to the researchers.

The report was published in October.

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — America loves fast food and a new study reveals just how often it’s consumed by them. About 85 million Americans eat fast food on any given day.

The CDC released new figures in the first federal study of its kind Wednesday. The report by the Centers for Disease Control shows about a third of American adults eat fast food on any given day.

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Prior research found around 40 percent of the money families spend on food is for eating out.

“Fast food consumption has been a part of the American diet for a while,” says Kirsten Herrick one of the researchers of the study from National Center for Health Statistics.

Credit: CBS3

“With today’s busy lifestyle, fast food is an easy option that people choose,” Herrick adds.

There were mixed reactions at Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market.

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“Homemade food’s better than fast food in my opinion,” says one person.

The report says men are more likely than women to buy fast food at lunch.

Credit: CBS3

Uber driver Sam Braccero tries to eat healthy, but every so often indulges in a cheeseburger.

“That’s our culture, we solve everything with eating. When we’re happy we eat, when we’re sad we eat,” explains Braccero.

Another recent study found children are eating fast food more frequently.

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“I think it’s a time thing, a convenience thing not having to take all the steps to cook at home. Makes it approachable and easy to feed on the go,” he adds.

Researchers found higher-income families ate fast food more often than poor people and younger Americans are more likely than older people to eat fast food on a daily basis.

Health officials said too much high-calorie fast food can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health issues.

Almost 40% of Americans Eat Fast Food on Any Given Day, Report Says

Pick a day at random, and you can bet that nearly 40% of Americans will eat fast food during those 24 hours, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Between 2013 and 2016, 36.6% of American adults said they ate fast food in the past 24 hours, according to interviews conducted through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Anything participants categorized as “restaurant fast food/pizza” was included in the total. (Fast food tends to be high in calories, fat and sodium without offering much nutritional value.)

People from ages 20 to 39 were the most likely to say they ate fast food during the past day, at nearly 45%, followed by people ages 40 to 59 (almost 38%) and people older than 60 (around 24%). Eating fast food on a given day was also most common among black adults (about 42%), followed by white (almost 38%), Hispanic (35.5%) and Asian (almost 31%) adults. Slightly more men than women — almost 38%, versus about 35% — reported eating fast food over the past day.

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Surprisingly, despite fast food’s generally low price point, consumption actually went up with family income. Forty-two percent of higher-income adults (those with household incomes above 350% of the federal poverty level) ate fast food on a given day, compared to nearly 32% of those whose families earned 130% of the federal poverty level or less.

The new numbers point to a contradiction in America’s dietary habits. On one hand, the wellness industry is exploding in popularity, and large numbers of Americans say they avoid eating things like excess sugar, salt and fat, and seek out plants and whole foods. But at the same time, recent federal data found that 90% of adults don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, and obesity rates continue to tick upward. The popularity of fast and processed foods suggests that Americans may not always be following through on their intentions to eat healthier.

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Write to Jamie Ducharme at [email protected]

Many American Adults Eat Fast Food Daily — Here’s Why That’s a Problem

Although fast food is low in nutrients and high in calories, a new report suggests that more than one-third of Americans reach for these quick bites every day. The data, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), align with growing epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the United States, as well as with recently reported fast-food eating trends in young people.

“Back in 2015, we found that 34 percent of youth eat fast food daily, so we predicted similar numbers for adults,” says one of the study’s authors, Cheryl Fryar, a health statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics in Washington, DC. In the current report, Fryar and her team found that 37 percent of American adults eat fast food daily, with black adults eating fast food the most (about 42 percent), followed by white adults (about 38 percent), Hispanic adults (about 36 percent), and Asian adults (about 31 percent).

Researchers looked at 2013–2016 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which asked participants to recall the food and source of food they ate in the last 24 hours. They defined those sources as “restaurant fast food/pizza.”

In the report, not only did researchers measure how often American adults ate fast food, they also identified certain trends based on income and sex.

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Debunking the Fast Food and Poverty Myth

The higher your income, the more likely you are to swing by the drive-through, the data suggest.

Contrary to the belief that people who earn less rely more on fast food because it offers a cheap source of calories, the CDC found that the percentage of adults who ate fast food daily increased with family income. About 32 percent of people with the lowest income eat fast food daily, compared with about 36 percent of people with a middle income and 42 percent of people with the highest income.

While the current study didn’t explore why, past research offers clues. For example, a study published in November 2017 in Economics & Human Biology found a link between more hours worked, rather than wealth, and a greater tendency to eat fast food regularly.

“I constantly hear people list time as a barrier that keeps them from making their own meals,” says Sharon Palmer, a Los Angeles–based registered dietitian nutritionist in private practice. “If you’re making a higher income, you’re likely working a lot of hours, and if you don’t pack ahead, what’s your option other than fast food?” The CDC report found lunch is the most popular fast-food meal for Americans to grab, followed closely by dinner. Palmer’s theory also makes sense when you factor in that the oldest age bracket studied, 60-plus (and potentially retired) people, was the least likely to eat fast food daily.

But the CDC study didn’t reveal the types of food people eat when they’re pressed for time. “The report is just telling you that people are eating fast food — it doesn’t tell you whether they’re making healthy choices or not,” says Fryar. At the same time, McDonald’s and Panera Bread were both considered fast food, according to the study, even though one has a reputation for being healthier than the other.

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Women Get Fast Food Snacks More Than Men

The report also found that while men are more likely to order a meal at fast-food chains, women are more likely to order a snack. “Women might not want a huge fast food meal, so they could be stopping in for lighter options,” says Palmer.

Still, even snacking on fast food can have health consequences. “If you’re taking a break from work and going to a coffee shop for a drink and a bite, that can load up your day with calories,” says Palmer. Consider that a muffin at Starbucks can clock in at 440 calories, according to the Starbucks website.

For a better snack option, Palmer suggests sticking to nuts — you can buy prepacked, one-ounce bags or put them in bags yourself — and keep them handy in your purse, at the office or in your car. This way, you’ll have a filling bite at the ready, and if you do grab coffee, you’ll be full enough to pass up the bakery counter.

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Why Fast Food Often Isn’t the Healthiest Option

Fast food is seen almost as a staple of the American diet, and that’s a problem. Not only is fast food associated with higher calorie consumption, according to a past CDC report, but it’s also linked to poor diet quality because it’s low in nutrients and high in fat and cholesterol. Over time, a poor diet may lead to obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Plus, regularly eating fast food can have other, surprising negative effects. A study published in July 2018 in Respirology found a link between eating fast food and a higher likelihood of having asthma, as well as eczema and pollen fever.

Another study, published in April 2016 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that people who ate the most fast food had phthalate levels that were as much as 40 percent higher than those who ate the least. Phthalates are potentially harmful chemicals used in plastics.

Fast food may even affect your mood. A study published in January 2012 in Public Health Nutrition observed an association between eating fast food and a higher risk of depression.

When thinking about fast food and how it affects your health, Palmer says it’s important to look at what you’re not getting when you make a drive-through run. “What’s lacking in fast food are the vegetables — you can find protein and bread, but in a sandwich it’s usually just one tomato and one leaf of lettuce, and that’s not enough nutrients,” she says.

On top of that, it’s hard to find a healthy protein, let alone a plant-based protein like chickpeas or beans, says Palmer. And those carbohydrates? “You may be getting white bread, but you’re typically not getting quality grains like quinoa or brown rice.”

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How to Make Smarter Choices When You’re on the Go

When you’re short on time, fast food can be difficult to resist. But Palmer says you can employ a few strategies to eat healthier on the go, including:

Lean on leftovers. Pack up any leftovers you have from the night before in a container, and take them to work with you the next day. “Not only are you limiting food waste — a huge problem in this country — but chances are your meal will be a lot healthier and tastier than what you’d get on the go,” she says.

Give Sunday meal prep a try. To take the guesswork out of your weekday lunches, get a jump start on your prep over the weekend. They don’t have to be fancy, says Palmer: just a cooked whole grain and vegetables, a protein like chickpeas, and a little oil or a simple dressing.

Master one-pot (or pan) meals. For dinner, Palmer is a fan of one-pot dishes that cut down on dish-cleaning time. She also suggests simple stir-fry meals that combine whatever healthy protein you have in your fridge or pantry, plus ample vegetables and brown rice or another whole grain. “I think people need to think about dinner as not taking hours to make — everyone needs a few easy, healthy recipes up their sleeve that they can make in 30 minutes or less,” says Palmer.

If you must dine out, choose wisely. We all have busy days or hectic travel schedules when fast food is simply the easiest option. And that’s okay, says Palmer. “A lot of fast food chains are upping their game, so try to choose the healthiest, most vegetable-filled meal you can find,” she says. Then, just be sure you’re cooking the rest of your meals at home. “What’s most powerful is what we do on an everyday basis,” she says.

More than 1 in 3 Americans eat fast food on a typical day, and we eat it all day long

If you’re an adult in America, there’s a better than 1 in 3 chance that you’ll eat fast food today — if you haven’t already.

New survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 36.6% of us eat some kind of fast food on any given day. That includes 37.9% of men and 35.4% of women, according to a report published Wednesday by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Fast food is on the menu all day long. On a typical day, 22.7% of Americans get their breakfast from a fast-food outlet. At lunchtime, 43.7% of Americans pick up a quick meal, and 42% do the same for dinner. Another 22.8% get a snack from a fast-food joint. (Clearly, many Americans are eating fast food more than once per day.)

Nearly half of American men — 48.3% — eat fast food for lunch on any given day. That’s significantly more than the 39.1% of women who do the same.

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On the other hand, about 1 in 4 women (25.7%) treat themselves to a fast-food snack on a typical day, compared with 1 in 5 men (19.5%).

The conventional wisdom about fast food is that people eat it when they can’t afford something better, due to a lack of money or a lack of time. But the report reveals that this isn’t necessarily the case.

(Shaffer Grubb / Los Angeles Times)

In fact, the more money someone has, the more likely he or she is to partake of fast food on any given day.

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Among those whose family income was less than or equal to 130% of the federal poverty line (which was set at $11,770 for a single person or $24,250 for a family of four in 2016), 31.7% ate fast food on a typical day. Among middle-income families (whose income was between 130% and 350% of the poverty line), 36.4% ate fast food on a typical day. And among high-income families (those with incomes above 350% of the poverty line), 42% dined on fast food on a typical day.

This might make you wonder whether “fast food” included take-out sushi, Starbucks frappuccinos and organic berries from the farmers market. The definition used in the survey was vague: “restaurant fast food/pizza.” It’s certainly possible that some people interpreted this to mean something other than burgers, fried chicken and sub sandwiches.

The data show that the popularity of fast food varies by racial and ethnic group. Its biggest fans are African Americans, 42.4% of whom ate it on a typical day. It was the least enticing to Asian Americans, though 30.6% of them ate it on a typical day as well. In between were whites (37.8%) and Latinos (36.5%).

By now, you might be wondering what it would take for Americans to dial back their addiction to fast food. The survey results suggest an answer: time.

Our taste for fast food seems to diminish with age. Peak fast-food consumption occurs in our 20s and 30s — 44.9% of survey-takers in this age group ate fast food on a typical day. In middle age, that figure drops to 37.7%. And after we turn 60, only 24.1% of us rely on fast food for at least one of our daily meals or snacks.

The data in the study came from the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in the years 2013 through 2016.

Follow me on Twitter @LATkarenkaplan and “like” Los Angeles Times Science & Health on Facebook.

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Here’s some food for thought: On any given day, nearly 40 percent of Americans consume some form of fast food, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Between 2013 and 2016, 36.6 percent of adults admitted to consuming fast food in the past 24 hours. Younger people, 20 to 39, were the most likely to have eaten fast food and that number decreased with age. More surprisingly, however, was that family income actually had an inverse effect: the more money someone had, the more likely they were to eat fast food.

Sure it’s fast, cheap and some think delicious, but it’s a scary statistic. That trio of fat, salt and sugar, plus a high calorie count, can have numerous devastating effects on your health down the road, like diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Another recent study from the British Medical Journal indicated that “ultra-processed food” — think chicken nuggets — had a direct impact on your risk of getting cancer.

READ MORE:This is how many Americans eat fast food every day

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Is it safe to eat fast food every day?

Yes, fast-food is food. The trick is to be choosy about what you eat. Pick a salad, don’t supersize it, don’t get soda.
Continue to exercise.
Super-size me was an exaggeration and was meant to point out the marketing and up-selling tactics of fast-food restaurants. If you notice the criteria he laid out:

  • He would order something different from the menu, but if they asked, he would always say: yes, super size me
  • He would always get soda.
  • He went from an active lifestyle to a completely stagnant one.

He knew what he was doing and he actively set out to prove his hypothesis, and he was successful.
A super-sized double quarter pounder with cheese is about 1600 calories. Swimming for 2 hours at a moderate pace will burn about that much.
It should be noted that yes, as a result, restaurants have “healthied” up their menus by giving lower calorie options and salads and wraps rather than stick to bigger and bigger quarter pounders.
In fact, after his movie came out, some other people duplicated the experiment, except they picked salads, no soda, and continued exercising. They duplicated the medical tests and found that their health remained fine, it even improved in some areas.
As with all food and health related things, don’t over do things, be careful what you chose, and continue to be active.

20 Things That Happen to Your Body When You Eat Fast Food

Fast food. It’s cheap, convenient and marketed to us when we’re young, in the hope that we’ll be consumers for life. For many companies, that strategy has paid off. But there’s a wrinkle in that math. If we eat too much of this stuff, that frequent consumer’s lifespan could be a lot shorter than if he’d eaten more food unassociated with clowns, colonels, kings, and freckle-faced girls with red pigtails.

See, in many cases, fast food is highly processed and contains large amounts of carbohydrates, added sugar, unhealthy fats and sodium. These foods are almost always high in calories while offering little in the way of nutrition. And when fast food frequently replaces nutritious whole foods in your diet, it can lead to all sorts of bad health outcomes. Derailing your weight loss goals is just one. Here are 20 things you can expect a fast-food diet to do to your body in a relatively short amount of time.

1

You’ll Increase Your Obesity Risk

If you switch from a balanced diet of whole foods to one of fast food, the most obvious difference you’d register would be the enormous uptick in (largely empty) calories you’d consume per meal. Hello, belly fat. And what’s worse: “The high calorie intake can lead to obesity, which puts you at risk for developing chronic diseases,” warns Jim White, RD, ACSM, owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios.

2

You’ll Also Starve

…nutritionally speaking. The high calories in fast food are accompanied by low nutritional content. Too much of that, and your body will begin to lack the necessary nutrients it needs to function properly. “Your body is temporarily full with empty foods that don’t provide nourishment, so even though you may have eaten a lot of calories, you won’t be satisfied for long,” says Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, founder of Real Nutrition NYC.

3

You May Increase Your Cancer Risk

PhIP is short for 2-Amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo(4,5-b)pyridine. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, this catchy-sounding chemical appeared in over 100 samples of fast food grilled chicken that were tested in a 2008 study published in Nutrition and Cancer. The organization says the substance, which forms when meat is heated to a certain temperature, is associated with human breast, prostate, and colon cancers. After a class-action lawsuit was filed in 2009, the Daily News reported that Burger King settled the suit and agreed to post warnings in its California restaurants.

4

You’ll Heighten Your Risk of Heart Disease

Fats commonly found in fast food are made up of saturated fatty acids. Those are fats that are solid at room temperature, often derived from animals and some plant oils. You’ll find it abundant in, say, a cheeseburger. White warns that these fats can raise your blood cholesterol levels, which leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

5

Memory and Cognitive Function Will Decline

Fast foods like bacon burgers, some fried foods, and milkshakes are often high in saturated fats. “It’s been long established that saturated fats can negatively impact the heart, but there’s also research that suggests high saturated fat intake may negatively impact brain function and memory,” says Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD. She adds that higher intakes of saturated fatty acids may impair memory speed and flexibility and prospective memory (your ability to remember to do what you intended). You intended not to pull into the drive-thru, remember?

6

You’ll Be Constipated

Dietary fiber (commonly found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds) plays a dominant role in the digestive system. Fiber helps keep your digestive tract working properly as it ushers wastes out of the body. It can help lower cholesterol and keep blood-sugar levels normal. “Unfortunately, most fast foods don’t contain high dietary fiber contents,” says White. What does? These The 43 Best Foods for Fiber!

7

Your Skin Will Deteriorate

Eating fast food may cause skin issues such as acne. “No, it isn’t the chocolate or fried components,” says Shapiro. “It’s the simple sugars, white flour and empty carbs like French fries that can be blamed.”

8

You’ll Bloat

Some foods naturally contain higher amounts of sodium, but sodium is also added to many food products. Some of these additives are monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium nitrite, sodium saccharin, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), and sodium benzoate, which are used as flavoring or preservatives. Regarding dietary sodium limits, it’s suggested that adults stay under 1,500 milligrams per day, and should never consume more than 2,300 milligrams day. A single fast food meal can actually exceed 2,300 milligrams. Too much sodium causes your body to retain water, making you feel bloated and puffy.

9

Your Kidneys and Stomach Will Suffer

Sodium also can contribute to existing high blood pressure or an enlarged heart muscle. If you have congestive heart failure, cirrhosis, or kidney disease, too much salt can contribute to a dangerous buildup of fluid. Excess sodium may also increase your risk of kidney stones and kidney disease, according to Harvard Medical School.

10

Your Teeth Will Decay

Frequent soda intake can lead to poor oral health, says Leah Kaufman, MS, RD, CDN. Drinking large amounts of soda increases the amount of acid in your mouth, which eventually causes tooth decay and cavities. “Some of your fast food desserts, such as McFlurries or Frosty, may also add to this,” she says. And that’s not all.

11

Your Mental Health Could Decline

Recent research shows that eating fast food may cause a higher rate of depression, Shapiro says. One study indicated that people who ate fast food were 51 percent more likely to develop depression than those who didn’t.

12

Your Blood Sugar Will Spike

Eating high-carb fast food increases your blood sugar. As you consume white-flour-based foods—such as the bun from a burger, or French fries with your sandwich—your body takes in a large amount of white sugar. “Frequent consumption of these foods may lead to diseases such as obesity—which the American Medical Association has indicated is a clinical diagnosis—and diabetes,” says Kaufman.

13

You’ll Worry More

There’s a lack of omega-3 fatty acids in fast foods. Shocker! A dearth of those good fats can create a more anxious mental state. But it’s not just what fast food lacks that can cause anxiety. This stuff is also high in refined carbohydrates, which can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar. If your blood sugar dips into hypoglycemic levels, you can experience anxiety, trembling, confusion and fatigue.

14

You’ll Increase Inflammation

Phthalates, a class of endocrine-disrupting chemical toxins, are used to line plastic food and beverage packaging. Unfortunately, they’re not good for your health. One 2018 Environment International study found that people who often ate fast food had 35 percent higher levels of phthalate metabolites than people who mostly eat food bought at a grocery store and prepared it at home. Bad news for all-day-breakfast lovers since an Environmental Science & Technology study found phthalates to be associated with inflammation, and another study in Environmental Health connected higher exposure to phthalates with metabolic syndrome: a disease also commonly associated with increased levels of inflammation. Inflammation can cause a myriad of health problems from obesity to nutrient deficiencies.

15

Your Cholesterol Could Skyrocket

Many fast foods served are derived from animal products, deep fried and served with cheese and high-fat dipping sauces. “The high fat content in fast food can contribute to high cholesterol, which can also lead to atherosclerosis. That occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries and prevents the flow of blood to the heart and organs,” says White. What’s more, fast food can lower your good (HDL) cholesterol, further putting your heart and your health on the line.

16

Your Risk of Cancer Continues to Grow

Sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite are additives used to maintain meat color and to inhibit bacterial growth. Both chemicals can break down into nitrosamines, substances with the potential to cause cancer, according to a meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrients.

17

Your Bones Could Weaken

As we mentioned, fast food is typically loaded with sodium. One Big Mac has 970 mg of sodium, well over one-third of the daily recommended allowance. A high sodium intake can cause your bones to weaken, leading to possible osteoporosis, Shapiro warns.

18

Food Dyes Could Color You Sick

A study by the National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says 2-methylimidazole causes cancer in lab rats. That’s bad because 2-methylimidazole is an ingredient in caramel coloring which is used in most dark-colored sauces and sodas. It gets worse. Another of this coloring agent’s ingredients is 4-methylimidazole. Researchers tested the effects of 4-methylimidazole on lab rats and mice and concluded that there was “clear evidence of carcinogenic activity of 4-methylimidazole in male and female B6C3F mice.”

19

You’ll Be Lethargic…

With large portions that are often high in fat, fast foods like burgers, fries, and milkshakes, fast food often delivers a hefty dose of calories. “Those large portions often leave you feeling full and lethargic,” says Moore.

20

…or Hyper

Anxiety and depression aren’t the only mental effects that fast food can induce. Eating a diet high in artificial colors and preservatives may play a role, as well. A review of related research published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics indicates that many artificial colorings, along with the preservative sodium benzoate, increase hyperactivity.

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Most of us know that junk food is unhealthy. We know that poor nutrition is related to heart problems, high blood pressure, and a host of other health ailments. You might even know that studies show that eating junk food has been linked to increases in depression.

But if it’s so bad for us, why do we keep doing it?

There is an answer. And the science behind it will surprise you.

Why We Crave Junk Food

Steven Witherly is a food scientist who has spent the last 20 years studying what makes certain foods more addictive (and tasty) than others. Much of the science that follows is from his excellent report, Why Humans Like Junk Food.

According to Witherly, when you eat tasty food, there are two factors that make the experience pleasurable.

First, there is the sensation of eating the food. This includes what it tastes like (salty, sweet, umami, etc.), what it smells like, and how it feels in your mouth. This last quality — known as “orosensation” — can be particularly important. Food companies will spend millions of dollars to discover the most satisfying level of crunch in a potato chip. Their scientists will test for the perfect amount of fizzle in a soda. These factors all combine to create the sensation that your brain associates with a particular food or drink.

The second factor is the actual macronutrient makeup of the food — the blend of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that it contains. In the case of junk food, food manufacturers are looking for a perfect combination of salt, sugar, and fat that excites your brain and gets you coming back for more.

Here’s how they do it…

How Science Creates Cravings

There are a range of factors that scientists and food manufacturers use to make food more addictive.

Dynamic contrast. Dynamic contrast refers to a combination of different sensations in the same food. In the words of Witherly, foods with dynamic contrast have “an edible shell that goes crunch followed by something soft or creamy and full of taste-active compounds. This rule applies to a variety of our favorite food structures — the caramelized top of a creme brulee, a slice of pizza, or an Oreo cookie — the brain finds crunching through something like this very novel and thrilling.”

Salivary response. Salivation is part of the experience of eating food and the more that a food causes you to salivate, the more it will swim throughout your mouth and cover your taste buds. For example, emulsified foods like butter, chocolate, salad dressing, ice cream, and mayonnaise promote a salivary response that helps to lather your taste buds with goodness. This is one reason why many people enjoy foods that have sauces or glazes on them. The result is that foods that promote salivation do a happy little tap dance on your brain and taste better than ones that don’t.

Rapid food meltdown and vanishing caloric density. Foods that rapidly vanish or “melt in your mouth” signal to your brain that you’re not eating as much as you actually are. In other words, these foods literally tell your brain that you’re not full, even though you’re eating a lot of calories.

The result: you tend to overeat.

In his best-selling book, Salt Sugar Fat (audiobook), author Michael Moss describes a conversation with Witherly that explains vanishing caloric density perfectly…

I brought him two shopping bags filled with a variety of chips to taste. He zeroed right in on the Cheetos. “This,” Witherly said, “is one of the most marvelously constructed foods on the planet, in terms of pure pleasure.” He ticked off a dozen attributes of the Cheetos that make the brain say more. But the one he focused on most was the puff’s uncanny ability to melt in the mouth. “It’s called vanishing caloric density,” Witherly said. “If something melts down quickly, your brain thinks that there’s no calories in it . . . you can just keep eating it forever.”

Sensory specific response. Your brain likes variety. When it comes to food, if you experience the same taste over and over again, then you start to get less pleasure from it. In other words, the sensitivity of that specific sensor will decrease over time. This can happen in just minutes.

Junk foods, however, are designed to avoid this sensory specific response. They provide enough taste to be interesting (your brain doesn’t get tired of eating them), but it’s not so stimulating that your sensory response is dulled. This is why you can swallow an entire bag of potato chips and still be ready to eat another. To your brain, the crunch and sensation of eating Doritos is novel and interesting every time.

Calorie density. Junk foods are designed to convince your brain that it is getting nutrition, but to not fill you up. Receptors in your mouth and stomach tell your brain about the mixture of proteins, fats, carbohydrates in a particular food, and how filling that food is for your body. Junk food provides just enough calories that your brain says, “Yes, this will give you some energy” but not so many calories that you think “That’s enough, I’m full.” The result is that you crave the food to begin with, but it takes quite some time to feel full from it.

Memories of past eating experiences. This is where the psychobiology of junk food really works against you. When you eat something tasty (say, a bag of potato chips), your brain registers that feeling. The next time you see that food, smell that food, or even read about that food, your brain starts to trigger the memories and responses that came when you ate it. These memories can actually cause physical responses like salivation and create the “mouth-watering” craving that you get when thinking about your favorite foods.

All of this brings us to the most important question of all.

Food companies are spending millions of dollars to design foods with addictive sensations. What can you and I do about it? Is there any way to counteract the money, the science, and the advertising behind the junk food industry?

How to Kick the Junk Food Habit and Eat Healthy

The good news is that the research shows that the less junk food you eat, the less you crave it. My own experiences have mirrored this. As I’ve slowly begun to eat healthier, I’ve noticed myself wanting pizza and candy and ice cream less and less. Some people refer to this transition period as “gene reprogramming.”

Whatever you want to call it, the lesson is the same: if you can find ways to gradually eat healthier, you’ll start to experience the cravings of junk food less and less. I’ve never claimed to have all the answers (or any, really), but here are three strategies that might help.

1. Use the “outer ring” strategy and the “5 ingredient rule” to buy healthier food.

The best course of action is to avoid buying processed and packaged foods. If you don’t own it, you can’t eat it. Furthermore, if you don’t think about it, you can’t be lured by it.

We’ve talked about the power of junk food to pull you in and how memories of tasty food in the past can cause you to crave more of it in the future. Obviously, you can’t prevent yourself from ever thinking about junk food, but there are ways to reduce your cravings.

First, you can use my “outer ring” strategy to avoid processed and packaged foods at the grocery store. If you limit yourself to purchasing foods that are on the outer ring of the store, then you will generally buy whole foods (fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, etc.). Not everything on the outer ring is healthy, but you will avoid a lot of unhealthy foods.

You can also follow the “5 ingredient rule” when buying foods at the store. If something has more than 5 ingredients in it, don’t buy it. Odds are, it has been designed to fool you into eating more of it. Avoid those products and stick with the more natural options.

2. Eat a variety of foods.

As we covered earlier, the brain craves novelty.

While you may not be able to replicate the crunchy/creamy contrast of an Oreo, you can vary your diet enough to keep things interesting. For example, you could dip a carrot (crunchy) in some hummus (creamy) and get a novel sensation. Similarly, finding ways to add new spices and flavors to your dishes can make eating healthy foods a more desirable experience.

Moral of the story: eating healthy doesn’t have to be bland. Mix up your foods to get different sensations and you may find it easier than eating the same foods over and over again. (At some point, however, you may have to fall in love with boredom.)

3. Find a better way to deal with your stress.

There’s a reason why many people eat as a way to cope with stress. Stress causes certain regions of the brain to release chemicals (specifically, opiates and neuropeptide Y). These chemicals can trigger mechanisms that are similar to the cravings you get from fat and sugar. In other words, when you get stressed, your brain feels the addictive call of fat and sugar and you’re pulled back to junk food.

We all have stressful situations that arise in our lives. Learning to deal with stress in a different way can help you overcome the addictive pull of junk food. This could include simple breathing techniques or a short guided meditation. Or something more physical like exercise or making art.

With that said, if you’re looking for a better written and more detailed analysis of the science of junk food, I recommend reading the #1 New York Times best-seller, Salt Sugar Fat (audiobook).

Where to Go From Here

One of my goals with this article is to reveal just how complex poor eating habits can be. Junk food is designed to keep you coming back for more. Telling people that they “need more willpower” or should “just stop eating crap” is short-sighted at best.

This Is What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Fast Food a Lot

Two weeks ago, a friend and I pulled into the drive-thru of a McDonald’s in Bennington, Vermont and indulged ourselves. We ordered a couple of value meals and a 10-piece nuggs for good measure. I estimated the meals to be around 1,400 calories each. We ate in near silence both staring through the windshield and off into the middle distance as if in a trance. As I finished off the remaining sweet and sour sauce, I resolved that I would put at least three months between this night and my next visit to the Golden Arches or indeed any other fast food establishment.

It wasn’t the sudden influx of calories alone that gave me pause, but a visceral and undeniable feeling that I was engaging in something like self-harm. When Super Size Me came out in 2004, it had very little effect on my fast food consumption. I was 27 then and seemingly indestructible. In the 14 years since then, the evidence linking regular fast food consumption with a litany of undesirable outcomes has become overwhelming. Here are just some of the ways that regular fast food consumption (say, a couple of times a week) is going to fuck with you if you let it.

Memory and cognitive function will decline

Every time I tuck into a meal at my favorite fast food joint, the condescending little voice in my head says something about how my decision-making processes are impaired. Well, that voice could be onto something. “It’s been long established that saturated fats can negatively impact the heart, but there’s also research that suggests high saturated fat intake may negatively impact brain function and memory,” says Atlanta-based nutritionist Marisa Moore.

Saturated fat is not necessarily the devil, but large amounts of it can create a dangerously unbalanced diet, especially if you’re supplementing it with sugar instead of good fats, carbs, and protein. One 2015 study from Oregon State University demonstrated that a diet high in both fat and sugar, caused changes in gut bacteria that appear related to a significant loss of “cognitive flexibility,” or the power to adapt and adjust to changing situations.

You might increase your risk of depression

The Happy Meal may be one of the most paradoxically named products ever to hit the market. People who regularly consume fast food are 51 percent more likely to experience depression, and more likely to be single, work long hours, eat fewer fruits and veggies, and smoke, according to a 2012 study. And while talk therapy and meds are going to be your best options to battle depression, New York-based nutritionist Amy Shapiro tells me that nutrients such as B vitamins and Omega 3s have been associated (in some preliminary research) with lower instances of depression. These—as you can imagine—are not found in fast food items as abundantly, if at all.

You’ll up your chances of becoming obese

If you stray from a balanced diet of whole foods to one of fast food, the most obvious difference you’d register would be the enormous uptick in largely empty calories you’d consume at every meal. Within short order, this would begin to have a marked effect on your body composition and your overall health. “Fast food consists of high calorie foods that contain high amounts of carbohydrates and sugar with little to no fiber,” says Virginia Beach-based dietician Jim White. White explains that frequent consumption of these foods lead to insulin resistance, thus contributing greatly to weight gain. A recent study looked at the link between fast food and obesity and hypertension in children and painted an unsurprisingly grim picture.

You’ll also starve

Well, nutritionally speaking at least. See, the high calories in fast food are accompanied by low nutritional density. An excess of burgers and fries will mean a lack of the necessary nutrients it needs to function properly. “Your body is temporarily full with empty foods that don’t provide nourishment, so even though you may have eaten a lot of calories, you won’t be satisfied for long,” Shapiro says.

You could increase your chance of getting cancer

A study by the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services says 2-methylimidazole causes cancer in lab rats. That’s bad because 2-methylimidazole is an ingredient in a caramel coloring which is used in most dark-colored sauces and sodas. It gets worse. Another of this coloring agent’s ingredients is 4-methylimidazole. Researchers tested the effects of 4-methylimidazole on rodents as well and concluded that there was “clear evidence of carcinogenic activity of 4-methylimidazole in male and female B6C3F mice.”

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Shapiro says that high smoke points and fried foods can contain carcinogens—a result of the heat of the cooking oil being too high or the charring of meats. “Possible pesticide use, antibiotics, and hormones found in poor quality meats may also be contributing to higher cancer rates,” she says, adding that without the intake of fruits and veggies which are high in antioxidants, fast food aficionados are missing nutritional help to offset the carcinogenic effect of their meals.

You’ll also be more at risk for heart disease

Fats commonly found in fast food are made up of saturated fatty acids. Those are fats that are solid at room temperature, often derived from animals and some plant oils. You’ll find it abundant in, say, a cheeseburger. Jim White warns that these fats can raise the blood cholesterol levels, which can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. It turns out that just living near where this food is available has a discernible effect on heart health. A Dutch study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology that found that adults living within a half-mile of fast food outlets were more likely to develop heart disease than those living further away.

You’ll be constipated

Dietary fiber (commonly found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds) plays a dominant role in the digestive system. Fiber helps keep your digestive tract working properly as it ushers wastes out of the body. It can help lower cholesterol and keep blood-sugar levels normal. “Unfortunately, most fast foods don’t contain high dietary fiber contents,” White says. Indeed, the National Institutes of Health calls out fast food as something to avoid should you need to get things moving.

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© 10 reasons junk food is bad for your health Photo

Over the past few decades, vada pav, samosas, doughnuts, pizzas, burgers, rolls, wraps, frankies, french fries, etc have penetrated every corner our country. You step out of your house and you’ll see them being served everywhere from malls, restaurants and roadside corners to office and college canteens.

But have you ever thought why are they called ‘junk’? The word ‘junk’ refers to something that is extra and useless. And all your delicious, favourite foods do complete justice to what the name signifies. The consequences that these junk food have on your health are terrible, irrespective of whether you have them once in a while, twice in a week or every day.

Take a look at how these junk play a crucial role in deteriorating your health.

1. Junk food may be the reason behind your fatigue: Although junk food and fast food makes you feel full and satisfied, they lack all the necessary nutrients like proteins and carbohydrates to keep your body energized and healthy.

If you eat junk food every time you’re hungry, you may feel chronically fatigued. It can lower your energy levels to an extent that it may become difficult for you to even perform your daily tasks.

2. Junks food may lead to depression in teenagers: A lot of hormonal changes take place in teenagers which makes them susceptible to mood swings and behavioural changes. And a healthy diet plays an important role in maintaining that hormonal balance. Because junk food lack those essential nutrients, the likelihood of teenagers to suffer from depression is increased by 58 percent.

3. It impairs digestion: Those who are addicted to fatty junk food are bound to have digestive problems like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). That’s because junk food is deep fried. So, the oil from the junk food gets deposited in the stomach causing acidity. They cause irritation of the stomach lining because they are too spicy, and they also lack fibre which is important for proper digestion.

4. It causes fluctuations in blood sugar levels: Junk food is high in refined sugar which puts your metabolism under stress. Refined sugar causes the pancreas to secrete more amount of insulin in order to prevent a drastic spike in your blood sugar levels. Because junk food lacks sufficient levels of good carbohydrates and proteins, the levels of blood sugar drop suddenly after you eat. This makes you feel irritable and further increases you craving for more junk food.

5. It affects the brain function: A study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity shows that one week of eating junk food is enough to trigger memory impairment in rats. Recent research suggests that bad fats (trans fats) from junk food tends to replace healthy fats in the brain and interferes with its normal signalling mechanism. Studies in animals have also shown that fats from junk food slow down the ability to learn new skills.

6. It increases the risk of heart disease: Junks food increases cholesterol and triglyceride levels which are major risk factors for the development of heart diseases. Moreover, fats from junk food accumulate over the time in your body to make you obese. The more weight you put on, the higher your risk of suffering from heart attack.

7. It can cause kidney disease: The reason why you can never say no to fries and chips is because they contain high amount of finely processed salt which increases salivation and secretion of enzymes that enhances your cravings. High amount of bad fats and sodium from salt increases blood pressure and affects the kidney function.

8. It can damage your liver: High levels of trans fats found in a number of junk food can cause deposition of fats in the liver, which can cause liver dysfunction.

9. It can cause type 2 diabetes: When you eat a healthy diet, your body gets a steady supply of glucose which helps to maintain insulin sensitivity. But when you eat only junk food, the excessive stress exerted on your metabolism can affect the ability of your body to use insulin properly.

10. It increases your risk of cancer: A study published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention revealed that consuming too much of fast foods that are high in sugar and fat can increase your chances of developing colorectal cancer. Another study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle showed that men who ate fried foods more than twice in a month had increased risk of developing prostate cancer.

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