Waistlines are expanding around the world as fast food is spreading to every country, every town and city mall. New, uncommon before diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease emerge wherever the international fast food chains set foot in. The reason for that is simple – fast food is not only unhealthy, it poses a real danger to health and overall well-being of individuals and whole nations.
Processed meat, refined grains, high-fat and sugary foods have become common for a large part of the world although traditional cuisines can be very different. Today, men in Qatar, Kuwait and UAE are gaining weight faster than the average global rates. Weight gain and weight-related diseases are now affecting all Asian nations although obesity rates are lower than in North and South America. According to the International Diabetes Federation in Brussels, by 2030 China will outrun even the United States in terms of diabetes rates. The Middle East is another champion in bad statistics – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are among the countries with the highest obesity rates in the world.
American-sized portions, Friday brunches and fast food culture in Dubai for example are very important factors for obesity and weight-related diseases. And why fast food is so harmful? The calorie density of processed food, which the term fast food is basically, is far higher than that of home-cooked meals. Most of the burgers, pizzas, burritos and so on, contain between 550 and 1200 calories, and adding the fries, the cola or banana shake, and the ice-cream we eat at lunch, it turns out we consume all the daily needed calories only at one meal.
Next, fast food is rich in salt, fat and sugar. Even the currently modern “healthy” meals at McDonalds, Burger King, Yummy and others contain a lot more fat and salt than anyone should eat on a single meal. For example, the turkey burger at Burger King has 530 calories and 26 grams of fat, but in order to feel full, you’ll probably need to eat two of them. This is the so-called “distracted eating” – you eat way more than you really need because you are not paying attention. According to studies, it takes more calories to get to the same level of satiety when you are not focused on the food, especially with high-fat, high-calorie food.
Two decades ago, there were no vending machines in most parts of the world, dispensing soda and candies, and no fast-food chains and shopping malls with food courts. Most meals were prepared and eaten at home even when both parents worked. Today we eat convenience food such as frozen piazza or lasagna, canned fruits, and a lot of processed meat, hydrogenated vegetable oils, refined sugars, fried high-fat foods and so on. We are constantly bombarded with TV ads for prepared foods and drinks laden with calories, fats, sugars and nitrates. We just get our food too easily.
According to global researches, no country has defeated the obesity epidemic and succeeded in reversing the trend. The increase in weight with age appears to be inevitable, so people should first think what they eat, instead of wondering how on earth to drop the gained pounds when it’s already too late.