Fast Food Syndrome
What is Fast Food?
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- Fast food is food cooked in bulk and in advance and kept warm, or reheated to order.
- Fast Food is often highly processed and prepared in an industrial fashion, i.e., on a large scale with standard ingredients and standardised cooking and production methods.
- It is usually rapidly served in cartons or bags or in a plastic wrapping, in a fashion which minimizes cost.
- In most fast food operations, menu items are generally made from processed ingredients prepared at a central supply facility and then shipped to individual outlets where they are reheated, cooked (usually by microwave or deep-frying) or assembled in a short amount of time. This process ensures a consistent level of product quality, and is key to being able to deliver the order quickly to the customer and eliminate labor and equipment costs in the individual stores.
Fast Food Outlets This is... Image courtesy of
- Many fast-food restaurants, (also known as "Quick Service Restaurants" or QSR) are part of restaurant chains or franchise operations, and standardized foodstuffs are shipped to each restaurant from central locations.
- There are also simpler fast-food outlets, such as stands or kiosks, which may or may not provide shelter or chairs for customers.
- Fast-food outlets are take-away or take-out providers, often with a "drive-thru" service which allows customers to order and pick up food from their cars.
- Most also have a seating area in which customers can eat the food on the premises.
- Fast food has been designed to be eaten "on the go" and often does not require traditional cutlery and is eaten as a finger food.
- Common menu items at fast food outlets include fish and chips, sandwiches, pitas, hamburgers, fried chicken, french fries, chicken nuggets, tacos, pizza, and ice cream, although many fast-food restaurants offer "slower" foods like chili, mashed potatoes, and salads.
Pre-processed ingredients and nutritional value
- Because of commercial emphasis on speed, uniformity and low cost, fast food products are often made with ingredients formulated to achieve a certain flavor or consistency and to preserve freshness.
- Hydrogenated vegetable oils are pumped into fast foods which contain high amounts of trans fat. This requires a high degree of food engineering, the use of additives and processing techniques substantially alter the food from its original form and reduce its nutritional value.
Because of its convenience, fast food is popular and commercially successful in most modern societies, but it is often criticized for having the following shortcomings, among others:
- Many popular fast-food menu items are unhealthy, and excessive consumption (where excessive is generally defined as two or more times per week) can lead to obesity.
- Exploitative advertising and marketing are used, especially directed at children (which can have an adverse effect on their eating habits and health).
- It causes environmental damage through excessive packaging and clearing forests for animal rearing.
- It reduces the diversity of local cuisines.
- It survives on a low-wage, low-benefit employment model, promoting exploitative labor practices throughout the food and food service industry
- Often lower quality versus sit-down restaurants.
Some Healthy Fast Food choices (pictures of these)
- Grilled chicken or fish sandwich
- Whole wheat rolls
- Fruit or fruit and yogurt
- Baked potato (with vegetables instead of cheese, butter or sour *cream)
- Salad with dressing on the side or fat free salad dressing
- Single hamburger (regular or children's size)
- Low fat deli sandwiches on wheat bread or on pita bread
- Wraps on whole wheat tortillas (without dressing)
- Fat free / low fat milk or water
In general, some particularly unhealthy menu choices to avoid include:
Particularly Unhealthy Menu Choices Chicken nuggets Croissant breakfast sandwiches (and croissants or pastries in general) Fried fish or fried chicken sandwiches Fried chicken Large and jumbo size fries Onion rings