Let’s pretend today is one of those days where all you can think about is a western bacon cheeseburger from Carl’s Jr. After work you drive thru and pick up the long-awaited burger. As you’re chowing down you come up with some lame excuse as to why you deserve it, so you feel less guilty. Are you thinking about all the calories and saturated fat you are now putting into your body, or do you simply not care? So now, let’s pretend this has turned into a daily habit where you let your cravings decide what you’re going to eat, and you begin to consume these fatty foods as if your body needs them. At the time your innocent cheeseburger seems like it would never do anything to hurt you. Believe it, or not, that burger could kill you. Spending years allowing yourself to rely on fast food for nutrients will lead to a life of health problems. Fast food is typically associated with weight gain, but what about the damage it does to your heart? We need to open our eyes to how dangerous these foods are. Nowadays cigarettes are looked at as poison due to the effects on someone’s body, but when will we look at fast food the same way? After all, they are both deadly.
Most people do not associate depression with obesity, however, the two go hand in hand. The journal, Public Health Nutrition published a study stating that baked goods and fast foods are often linked to depression. It was determined that, “people who eat fast food are fifty-one percent more likely to develop depression than those who eat little to no fast food.” (Sanchez2011). It also showed, “A ‘healthy’ dietary pattern, such as the Mediterranean diet, has been related to a lower risk of depression.” (Sanchez2011). It’s hard to believe that fast food can affect you mentally, and that it has the power to change the way you think and feel about yourself. A diet of fatty foods can take a toll on your brain in more ways than depression. “A junk food diet could also affect your brain’s synapses and molecules related to memory and learning.” (Healthline2017). In many cases, when an individual is depressed they eat comforting foods to feel better about themselves. However, clinging to food as a pacifier is one worst things you can do to yourself. Food should give you energy and keep your body happy, not please it emotionally because you’re having a bad day. Proceeding to eat junk food can keep you in a rut of sluggishness instead getting important tasks done. Not being able to think properly can take a toll on your emotions and performance at work or school. After all, they call healthy food “brain food” for a reason.
Shortness of breath is yet another side effect associated with obesity. Dr. Anaya Mandal states, “With the rise of weight and BMI (body mass index) the lung volume decreases. This leads to a more restricted air entry. There is lowered: forced expiratory volume in one second, forced vital capacity, functional residual capacity, expiratory reserve volume, residual volume, and total lung capacity.” As if a decrease in lung volume wasn’t enough, there are several other respiratory conditions linked to obesity, such as: Exertional Dyspnea, Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Asthma, Pulmonary Embolism, and Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome. These conditions put a strain on your lungs, and some of them deteriorate the muscles in your respiratory system. The effects on the respiratory system make everyday tasks more difficult, and can lead to laziness. Working out or taking part in physical activities can be difficult when you can barely breathe doing so.
Cardiovascular disease includes several different issues, with most of them being linked to atherosclerosis. The American Heart Association describes atherosclerosis as, “a condition that develops when a substance called plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This build up narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can stop the blood flow. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.” High blood pressure, smoking, or high cholesterol can all lead to atherosclerosis. High cholesterol is brought on by a poor diet high in saturated fats, trans fat, and foods that are high in cholesterol such as red meat and dairy products. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, makes your heart work harder to pump blood throughout your body putting a lot of strain on the muscle. Hypertension is brought on by excess sodium, lack of exercise, obesity, sleep apnea, and a poor diet. However, some cardiovascular disease is genetic, but today most cases are brought on through an unhealthy lifestyle. Majority of health conditions brought on by fatty foods later lead to some form of heart disease.
Type two diabetes rates continue to rise as more people adapt to a lifestyle of consuming too many calories or too big of portions. Furthermore, type two diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. The American Diabetes Associations explains, “Diabetes is a problem with your body that causes blood glucose(sugar) levels to rise higher than normal…If you have type two diabetes your body does not use insulin properly.” This health condition can damage your eyes, kidneys, nerves, and even cause giant sores on your body. With damage to your nerves it changes your perception of hot, cold, and pain. Not being able to use your sense of touch can result in injury or even ignore an injury that needs attention. Dry, cracked, skin is common and usually leads to callouses. If these callouses spilt, you become prone to infections and ulcers. In many cases ulcers become so infected that the patient needs the infected area to be amputated. The American Podiatric Medical Association states, “Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower extremity amputations in the United States…approximately 14-24 percent of patients with diabetes who develop a foot ulcer will require an amputation.” Diabetic patients can prevent a foot ulcer by paying attention to symptoms and becoming more aware of their body, especially if they have lost feeling in certain areas. Luckily type two diabetes can be reversed by changing to a healthier lifestyle filled with exercise and a better diet.
The danger fast food is all around us and avoiding temptation seems to be the biggest fight, but standing your ground and saying no can save your life. Obesity is one of the leading causes in chronic disorders and health conditions today, and it’s scary that we can do this to ourselves. Having a healthier diet can go a long way whether it is your physical well-being or your mental well-being. We all have the choice to eat whatever we want, but don’t be surprised in a few years when you can barely breathe and must take all kinds of medication to keep yourself alive. The choice is yours.