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Fast Food Nutrition

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Singapore Study Shows New Fast Food Health Risk

A study published in the American Heart Association's journal shows increased risk of death from heart disease with increased fast food meals.

The study tracked the eating habits of 52,000 Singapore residents over 16 years with the following results:

  • 20% increased risk of death from heart disease when people consumed one fast food meal per week,

  • 50% increased risk of death with 2-3 meals per week, and

  • 80% increased risk of death with 4 or more fast food meals per week.

In addition, eating two or more fast food meals per week showed 27% increased risk of acquiring Type II diabetes.

These results are even more dramatic because the people reporting increased fast food meals were generally younger, more physically active, better educated, and smoked less (Odegaard A et al, Western-Style Fast Food Intake and Cardio-Metabolic Risk in an Eastern Country. Circulation, July 2012).

Western style fast food is a recently added market in Singapore and other Asian areas.

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Forget Your Salad?

Is it easy to choose healthy food like a salad when dining out?

A new series of studies offered lunch menu selections to people. When a healthy salad was added to the menu, people actually increased their selections of unhealthy food.

The researchers explain that this is a phenomenon called "vicarious goal fulfillment."

Just thinking about the choice of a salad was sufficient for most people and let them feel like they had kept their goals of healthy eating, despite the fact that they actually ordered unhealthy food (Wilcox, Vicarious goal fulfillment: when the mere presence of a healthy option leads to an ironically indulgent decision, Journal of Consumer Research, April 2009).

Who was hit hardest by this phenomenon? People with high levels of self-control.

Boost your motivation for healthy low calorie food here

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Fast Food Nutrition News: Meat, Fast Food, And Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome, or insulin resistance syndrome, is a cluster of health risk factors that combine to increase the risk of heart attacks. They include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and abdominal obesity or belly fat. This risk factor cluster triples the risk of heart attack or stroke, and doubles the risk of death from heart attack or stroke.

Globally, more people have metabolic syndrome and will die from it than HIV/AIDS.

A new study now shows that daily dietary choices can increase the risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

A nine-year follow-up of 9514 middle-aged people found that meat, fried foods, and diet soda (characteristic of fast food choices) increased the risk of acquiring metabolic syndrome, and dairy decreased the risk, after adjusting for demographics, smoking, physical activity, and calories (Lutsey PL, Circulation, 2008).

People who choose to avoid increasing the risk of metabolic syndrome may select non-fat dairy products for providing complete protein. Also, maintaining the USDA recommended 9 servings of fruit and vegetables can be used to replace fried food selections.

Of course, daily green tea is a great choice for most people looking for alternatives to diet soda. Green tea is always prepared with water only and has 0-2 calories per cup, with an almost endless selection of different tastes from green tea leaf varieties.

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Fast Food Nutrition News: Fast Food Results

Researchers have determined that even macro-nutrients in fast food nutrition may not be standardized.

They gathered 74 samples of the same menu items (fried chicken and French fries) from both McDonalds and KFC outlets throughout 35 countries.

A chemical analysis found that the total fat content of the same menu items could vary from 41 to 65 grams of fat at McDonalds, and from 42 to 74 grams of fat at KFC (Stender S, International Journal of Obesity, 2007).

Higher fat levels that do not match the stated nutritional information could become a substantial source of hidden fat in the diet.

When the menu is questionable, many people drink green tea with their meals in case it may block the absorption of cholesterol or hidden fat.

Check the calories for a variety of fast food items here.

The researchers also found fast food chains in most countries still had high levels of trans-fatty acids in the food. Trans-fat can be associated with abdominal fat and heart disease.

Many fast food chains have made a commitment to end the use of trans-fats in their menu and it has even been banned in some cities.

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This page last updated by Sharon Jones on June 14, 2013

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