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Why Is Fast Food Not Good for Health?

by Nancy Clarke

About Nancy Clarke

Nancy Clarke began writing in 1988 after achieving her Bachelor of Arts in English and has edited books on medicine, diet, senior care and other health topics. Her related affiliations include work for the American Medical Association and Oregon Health Plan.


While fast foods look good, taste good and cost little, the health expenses can be great. Even an occasional fast-food meal can bust your diet, relates the American Diabetes Association. You can overload on some nutrients, such as fat and sugar, and miss out on others, such as fiber and certain vitamins and minerals. The high calories and low nutritional value of carbonated drinks are typical of fast-food detriments to your waistline and long-term health.

Oversize Portions Lead to Weight Gain

Consuming more calories than you burn will lead to weight gain, which increases your chances for illness. A double-patty hamburger, large French fries and a 16-ounce milk shake total 1,572 calories. If you’d like a hot apple pie with that order, add another 404 calories, as per the USDA. This meal, which exceeds suggested servings for meats, starchy vegetables and sugar, uses nearly an entire day’s allowance calories if you follow a 2,000-calorie diet. Eating over sized meals on a regular basis will increase your calorie intake, which causes you to store fat and gain weight.

High Carbohydrates Increase Blood Triglycerides

Carbs pop up everywhere in fast foods: in soda pop, burger buns, sub sandwich rolls, pancakes, tacos, French fries and milk shakes. Consuming too many carbohydrates raises your blood triglyceride level, a condition that can lead to insulin resistance. Combined with weight gain from calorie overload, this nutritional imbalance can raise your risk for type 2 diabetes. At the same time, the low dietary fiber content of many fast foods joins with high calories to increase your risk for colon, gallbladder, breast and prostate cancers.

High Fat and Cholesterol Harm Arteries

Nutritional ratios in many fast foods are also tipped toward large amounts of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. Hamburgers, fried shrimp, fish and chicken, tacos and breakfast sandwiches are at the top of the list of all foods with unhealthy levels of fat and cholesterol. Solid fats, including cholesterol, coat the insides of your arteries to clog and damage them. Both solid and liquid fats contain large amounts of calories, raising your risk for heart attack, arrhythmia and congestive heart failure.

High Sodium Raises Blood Pressure

The greater your sodium intake, the greater your blood pressure, making you vulnerable to hypertension. High-sodium items abound on drive-through menus, including fried shrimp, tacos, fries and submarine sandwiches. According to the Office of the Surgeon General, if you gain weight from a steady diet of fast foods, your chances of developing high blood pressure and heart disease increase.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.