Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Is 'fast food' BAD?

Does eating fast food cause obesity? Will I get fat if I eat a burger from McDonald's? Should we not encouarge kids to boycott Tim Hortons so that they will not gain weight? What if we decide to eat fruits all day and not eat chocolate or cake? Will we be healthy and lose weight? Commercials should stop telling us to buy their foods, right? This will stop obesity from occuring! Right? Maybe not...

You are probably familiar with the phrase 'obesity epidemic'. This refers to information that shows that over the past few years, obesity is on the rise. Researchers and medical professionals alike (along with parents, teachers, teens, and many, many people!) like to blame the fast food industry for this problem. They say that restaurants like McDonald's and Burger King, along with desserts like cake and pizza, are the cause of this problem. Their solution? Discourage the consumption of fast food! After all, if fast food causes obesity, the rational solution is to boycott it all together. But wait for a second. Are we not forgetting that obesity, like many other things, is not caused by ONE factor?

What causes obesity? We don't really know, to be honest. But we DO know that it is caused by many different things. Genetics, lifestyle, work, peer pressure, the media, and food availability are some factors. What does this mean? That eating fast food alone is not the cause of obesity. Of course, eating too much fast food, like anything else, can contribute to weight gain. Why? Sometimes, food that is not made in the home can be saturated with oil, butter, or other fats that can have negative effects on one's health. But, that is not to say that eating out occassionally is harmful. In fact, it is quite normal to do so, and is 'okay' to do in moderation. The problem becomes significant when one eats consistently out and does not balance this with an increase in excercise or an increase in consumption of other foods, such as whole grains, fruits/veggies, etc. In simpler words. eating out once in a while will NOT make you fat. Take a look at the picture to see how many factors are related to the development and maintainence of obesity.

In fact, to a certain extent, a low-fat diet is harmful. We need fat in our diets for some vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. Fat is an insulator, protects our bones, and can even serve as an energy source in desperate times. Low-fat diets are associated with an increase in adverse health effects. If this does not make sense, think about what happens to ED patients: they lose so much weight and do not consume enough lipids in their diet that their bodies begin breaking down muscle and proteins for energy, they starve, and they become very ill. Again, remember that everything is healthy and even 'okay'  - and needed - in moderation.

Let's return to the 'obesity epidemic'. What I want you to get out from this post is that fast food or certain foods alone cannot cause obesity. This is why it is wrong for the media/others to focus on JUST fast food as the sole purpose of obesity. I, being recovered from ED, still consume fat/oil/chocolate/cake/cookies/pizza/burgers in my diet. But I do so in moderation. AmI unhealthy or fat? No. But the media makes it seem as though eating at McDonald's automatically makes you fat or a big. They scare us with pictuers of big Macs and then frighten us with storeis of heart attacks. In a way, they are right that too much fat/cholesterol can lead to heart attacks and other health issues. But will eating out once in a while do so? No. Is eating out the ONLY way that people come to struggle with obesity? NO. Why, then, does the media focus on fast food? Because it is easy for them to do so. It is easy to use this 'shock factor' to make people interested. Imagine what happens when parents hear 'Burger King makes your children more likely to have heart attacks at age 30!'. Parents will be frightened. It works well. So, in a way, this is a smart technique used by the media.

BUT what makes it so foolish is that INFORMED CONSUMERS (which you should be by now, considering that you have read my blog and have heard all my rants about the media/body image/food!) know that this relationship between fast food and obesity is not a CAUSAL relationship. Remember that association does not mean causation. Yes, too much fat in the diet is associated with heart problems, but so is a diet that is too low in calories in fat (as an example, my heart was failing last year because I was eating so little). Too much cholesterol is associated with gallbladder problems, but so is too little fat. Too much calories can contribute to obesity, but too little calories can cause kidney failure and death as well (again, think back to my story last year).

What's the message? BE AWARE. Do not let the media or other 'professionals' convince you that fast food alone is what is causing the obesity epidemic. If that were the only reason, obesity would be easily solved by eliminating all fast food. But that is not the case, because we know that obesity is caused by many different inter-related factors. The media, sadly, is always looking for quick and easy ways to make money, and it does this by telling us that we need to stop eating McDonalds and Starbucks because they are making us all fat. Well, after reading this post, you are hopefully convinced that they are not correct in making this assumption! Next time you watch TV or hear an advertisement about obesity/fast food, really think about what you are watching. What is the message saying? Does it make it seem as though fast food/fat/oil is the cause of obesity? You will be surprised to see how common this is. Now, you are more aware. When I was sick, I failed to realize how much the media and health professionals dwell on this. Now, in recovery and more aware of these things, I have come to see that my lifestyle and health are related as a WHOLE. One burger will not suddenly make me obese. People who are overweight are not just overweight because they eat too much fast food. Again, it is about the person's lifestyle, as well as their genes, environment, etc. fast food BAD? I think I have made my answer pretty clear...what do you think?


  1. Thank you Marina for endorsing my views here.
    As you know I am 76 and I have had long life enjoying all foods in moderation. Am 5'8" and my weight is 160.I am very healthy and I never been to any hospital. I go to McDonald and I enjoy Tim H coffee and donuts,
    cookie etc.
    Moderation moderation is the key

    Sam Ibrahim

  2. Our healthy body needs all food items in moderations. Fast foods are healthy foods that We can eat quickly.
    Please every body enjoy all variety.


  3. Yes Obesity is multifactorial and genetics may play a role.
    Eating out is very healthy.
    Boycotting certain food items not recommended.
    Moderation in eating any food and being active 30 minutes daily are the key to excellent healthy body.
    Healthy life at all sizes now the most accepted motto

    RN and RDE

  4. This is true
    Eating fast food does not make you fat.
    Obesity is much more complicated that this.
    I do believe all foods including all fast foods are healthy.


  5. The picture summarizes all about obesity and eating
    Good one Marina


  6. As you know Marina ,I am a fan of your blog and I love all your posts but this one is the best.
    I completely agree with you, We need fat to be healthy. We need fat not only to absorb vitamins and minerals and insulate our skin and protect from cold but also we need fat for healthy brain ,emotions and immune systems.
    There are several studies done and showed significant health risk for those who are not taking enough calories and fats.
    I was reading a report about HDL and how important to have high amount of this healthy cholesterol to our body.
    Also long ago I read a report that even the bad cholesterol to the heart LDL still We need to have reasonable amount of LDL in our body to maintain healthy cell function especially our brain.

    medical student

  7. Remember the media give you only half the truth and that half only what is reflecting their opinion rather than the main stream of our people .


  8. Fast food not bad at all.
    We all eat it and we all enjoy it.
    We need to consider all factors together.


  9. I am originally from Iraq and as a tradition We invite all family in our feasts dinner and birthday parties and we cook lots of food and We order Pizza and We all enjoy that moments and We are all healthy, touch wood.
    I like this post as this make sense to our life .Enjoy in moderation.


  10. When I was sick I used to label foods either as good or bad and mostly for me all foods were bad.
    Now I recovered like you and all foods are good .


  11. This picture can tell you all what you need to know!!!!
    Very articulate Marina


  12. I eat every food in moderation and I am healthy. I trust what you say Marina and I do not trust the media.


  13. The picture is wonderful

  14. I am no different than many with ED.
    I was avoiding most foods and was telling every body that all those junk, bad and not healthy till my complete recovery without relapse 7 years ago and since then I am trying not only help my self eat the normal every day all varieties but also help others understand the blessing of God having all necessary foods available to us .

    Recovered ED victim

  15. I am from a family that loves all variety of food and We all healthy.
    Moderations is the key
    What does not celebrate birthday with a big cake !!!


  16. Trust me I eat from McDonald, burger King,Mr Sub and I enjoy my Tim and I am healthy as a horse and my cholesterol is beautiful ( my doctor said)
    You are absolutely right Marina moderation guys


  17. The picture is good but so complicated to understand, however your post is very easy for us to absorb and has all the information


  18. Marina .
    I am older than you and I remember that time when fast food franchises all used trans fat for cooking of all their products.

    Now zero trans fat and so things are different.
    However media are biased and still can stigmatize fast food if they wish too.
    I counsel my patients to eat their meals regularly and never under any circumstances to delay their meals. I advise them to eat all they like in moderation.
    You are endorsing my ideas and my knowledge with medical evidence.
    Thank you

    Kelly W

  19. Let me admit to you that when you motivated me to get help ,I was completely denying my troubles and my illness. I did not know that I was very sick and my thoughts were all skewed and wrong especially about food and body image.
    Now thanks to you I am fully recovered and I am enjoying the best of my life and back to school
    I eat normally all foods and feel strong ,happy and healthy.
    I do agree with you all foods are healthy and necessary to our health and fast foods are kind of food We get it right away very fast and all healthy.
    The notion from media about fast food is exaggeration and for those who are not aware of fact

    Thanks Marina again


  20. Fast foods are healthy foods not bad at all. We all love them.
    You are right Marina ,even when we say fruits are healthy and o k ,imagine diabetic person eats lots of grapes, I believe sugar will be so high.
    Excellent post Marina


  21. I read you blog at least twice weekly as you really think of our best way to be healthy and ward off disease.
    I do believe the best way to keep healthy is good nutrition and my natural views are matching with your medical knowledge.
    All fast food are as healthy as all other foods as long as you are taking them in moderations
    I quote Canadian food guide and my doctor alerted me to a website called Eat right Ontario.

    I appreciate your hard work in this blog.


  22. I love fast foods .All good


  23. We have family gathering once week when all order Pizza and We get together at Tim Sunday morning have breakfast at Tim H.
    Whole family enjoy it and We are all healthy.


  24. You know every time I go to fast food ,I see people from the media there.
    Why they do not practice what they preach or just business .


  25. I love Fast food and my star bucks morning Java
    Sandra D

  26. I am Spanish and We love fast foods and coffee.


  27. I work in a hospital and I see the best treat to staff working there including doctors and nurses is Tim treat. They have their lunch from the food court every day ,every day and all of them healthy and happy
    Back off media and leave us alone

    S K

  28. I fed up from the sour, hot and spicy Indian foods and over the last few years ,my friends and myself eat lunch from fast food and close up with Tim coffee and all yummy.
    I do not care what media say.


  29. Our middle eastern foods now you can call it fast food but it is the healthiest ever.
    I start and end my day by Tim tea and peanut butter cookie .


  30. The picture is good and now I am going to have my dinner at Subway and then my good donut and French vanilla from TH


  31. Foods are God's blessing to nourish us and protect our body from infections. All foods are Halal.
    I eat fast foods and daily I get my treat from Tim near my collage.
    Media really sucks(sorry )

    With my humble respect


  32. I am pleased to tell you Marina that now my daughter takes me for a treat regularly at one of the restaurants fast food or not and also she knows I love my coffee and so when wakes up early she gets me breakfast from Tim along with my coffee.
    I want share with you and tell you ,only this happen when she got better thanks to your advise that woke me up

    A thankful mother

  33. I love your blog as much as I love my sandwich burger king and my TH coffee


  34. Fast foods are lovely
    Shame on our media


  35. I am Iraqi also and I love TH and my 5 children love all fast food and my doctor told me every food is moderation not only healthy but recommnded.


  36. I love all the foods and my starbucks


  37. I do not care about the media .
    I love my McDonalds and Mr. Sub and my children too am much I love your blog


  38. Once a week I treat my family to Burger king and Tim.
    We all enjoy it .It is fun and good foods


  39. Since I came to Canada I am eating from the food court and my tea from TH along with my donut and last week I had complete annual health exam and all good ,Fast food is easy ,cheap and healthy and please media shush,,


  40. You are all so great - and right. Fast food is not BAD, it is good in moderation like everything else in life. I myself love Tim Hortons :) Its great that we have such great discussions on this blog! Thanks everyone for the support! God bless you all!


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