Junk Food Incidence
According to the Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based research and advocacy organisation, an online survey was conducted, Know Your Diet (knowyourdiet.org). Over 13,200 children in the age group of 9-17 from 300 schools across the country participated in the survey and provided information related to their daily habits. About 90 per cent of them were from urban areas.
The results show that 93 per cent of the children eat packaged food and 68 per cent consume packaged sugar-sweetened beverages more than once a week; 53 per cent consume these products at least once a day.
Why Teens Opt for Junk Food?
- Teenagers watch more than three hours of commercial TV, discount offers, banner advs a day eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.
- Foods which are rich in energy, as they contain a lot of fat and sugar, as well as salt, are relatively low in other important nutrients such as protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals are found extremely attractive by most children because of the taste,
- Comparatively lower price
- Convenience as they don’t require any cooking or preparation.
- It is quite addictive.
Health Hazards: Time to Act
Fast food intake more than three times a week is associated with greater odds of atopic disorders such as asthma, eczema or rhinitis, while asthma severity is almost 40% higher in teenagers and more than 25% in younger children.
An overdose of calories, fats, sugars, and other carbohydrates in repeated meals changes the food desires of the child, and less bent towards eating fibers, fruits, milk, and vegetables. Increasing chances of constipation.
Eating a lot of fast food in childhood makes it hard to eat healthy in later life because childhood food habits solidify by adulthood. The addictive taste of fast food makes it quite unlikely that the child will later savor the less spicy flavors of ordinary food.
Poor Academic Performance
Fast food can lead to impaired academic performance because high sugar levels followed by sugar crashes and poor concentration levels make it difficult to accomplish tasks which need extended periods of focused attention. Blood sugar fluctuations can lead to mood swings and lack of alertness, lowering classroom participation.
Lack of Energy
Fast food can inhibit participation in extracurricular activities because of less stamina and deficiency of adequate nutrients for physical activity. Lack of physical activity not only keeps children out of peer groups but also impairs physical and mental health.
Obesity can result in lowered self-esteem, and perhaps depression. Some children who eat junk food are at risk of developing depression even without obesity. Depression in turn affects growth and development parameters, academic performance, and social relationships. It also results in a higher risk of suicide.
Pop and cola drinks often contain caffeine which can hamper the normal sleep-wake cycles.
Essential fatty acids are typically missing or lacking in fast foods. These include omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids which cannot be produced within the body. They are essential for the manufacture of cell membranes, and are also required in high concentrations within the brain and retina. The lack of such nutrients is thought to be associated with increased antisocial behavior, and perhaps with hyperactivity.
The best way to tackle this growing dependency on junk food is by creating an environment that supports healthy eating habits.