One fast food meal won’t wreck your diet, but a pattern of eating unhealthy fast foods often and nutritious meals infrequently can harm your health. From vitamin and mineral deficiencies to potentially fatal heart attacks, the consequences of eating cheap fast foods can far outweigh the cost savings. Many restaurant menu items provide too many calories with too little nutrition, in portion sizes that promote overindulgence.
Poor Growth and Body Function
Your body uses the nutrients from the foods that you eat to build bone and muscle tissue and to promote normal body processes from digestion to blood circulation. Because many fast foods have a greater proportion of detrimental fat and sugar, adults may not get enough of the fiber, vitamins and minerals that are essential to normal growth and metabolism. The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans note that most Americans risk nutrient deficiencies in these areas. This poses an even greater problem for children, whose bodies are still developing.
Eating a lot of fast food causes weight gain along with vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Food servings such as hamburgers, french fries, tacos and milk shakes can total 500 calories each or more, according to the USDA Nutrient Database. You may eat two more “normal” meals in a day, in order to get the remaining nutrients you need, and take in more calories than you can expend. When you gain weight and don’t diet or exercise to lose it, the pounds can accumulate and result in obesity, or a body mass index of 30 or greater.
Becoming overweight or obese from eating fast foods can restrict mobility and make you more sedentary, and less likely to lose weight, note the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This increases your chances for developing asthma, sleep apnea, arthritis, incontinence, depression and poor surgical and childbirth outcomes, as per the Office of the Surgeon General.
Additional Chronic Diseases
Weight problems increase your risk for serious chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease, adds the Office of the Surgeon General. You don’t have to be overweight, however, for the salt and fat in fast foods to affect your cardiovascular system. Too much of these detrimental nutrients can result in high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, blood clots, heart attacks and strokes, as the American Heart Association relates.
- Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.