Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lethal link between obesity and fast foods

We are a nation of addicts and our addiction is spreading worldwide. No, it is not tobacco or even alcohol abuse that is so prevalent. It is our addiction to fast food that is killing us. Americans consume thousands of pounds of greasy cheeseburgers every day. Not to mention the fries and drink. The total calories for this basic no frills fare from Ronnies steak house is a whopping 1200! Add just one vanilla triple thick shake to the tune of 1110 calories and you are at your daily limit.

There is no escaping the onslaught, every small town in the nation has at least on fast food restaurant. Many have more than that, in my town of less than 25,000 people we have McDonald's, Hardees, Arbys, Taco Bell, Quiznos, Dairy Queen, Burger King 3 Sonics, 2 Subways and more pizza joints than I can count. With this type of saturation, is it any wonder that fast food obesity is the fastest rising health threat?

Anyone who had seen the documentary Super Size Me has been shocked at by not only the link between fast food and obesity causes but also the other health risks the show brought to light. We knew that the food probably was not good for us but even the physicians involved in this experiment never dreamed that a person could exhibit liver damage from fast food. If you have not seen the film, Morgan Spurlock ate only Mcdonalds for 30 days in the documentary.

Clearly, our love affair with the cheeseburger has gone on long enough but is there truly a link between the fast food and obesity causes?

Since fast food began in 1960’s America has steadily gotten heavier. Today 60% of us are overweight and a full 25% are obese. Alarmingly it seems our children are not escaping the trap either. Today there has been a 40% rise in type II diabetes in children, a disease that was once known as adult onset because it did not strike until around age 50. In addition, let’s not be misled obesity causes type II diabetes.

Nevertheless maybe these are all just strange coincidences. Let us look at the Mcdonald's happy meal although the calories are not given for the meal on their menu we can take the individual parts and add it our self.
Cheesburger-300
Small Fry- 230
Small Coke – 110 (we all know they are not drinking juice)
That totals 690 calories or nearly half the recommended daily allowance! Keep in mind this is just the basic no frills small meal, get them the big kid’s meal or a regular big mac meal and the totals jump even higher. If you think that is bad check out the calorie count for the double whopper, 920 calories, and that is just the burger no cheese! Maybe it is not such a coincidence after all. There is strong evidence that fast food is an obesity cause.

So exactly what is the big deal? What if a few people and their children get fast food obesity? This is a free country we should be able to do what we like right. Maybe so however we need to be informed on what impact this will have on our health. People who are fast food obese have a great health risk. The diseases associated with obesity include type II diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and stroke. Any one of these diseases can be at best debilitating and at worst deadly. The danger increases with amount of weight and age as well as other bad habits such as smoking or alcohol use. America’s obesity causes are a problem we desperately need to solve; it is a ticking time bomb. Just imagine if over half the people in the country were disabled. That leaves 40% of the nation working and trying to cover disability payments and health care. That is a serious risk to our nation but more than that, we have a population at risk of dying far too young all because of fast food obesity.

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