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Knowingly or Unknowingly Kenyan parents are allowing their children to indulge in more fast food due to the convenience, affordability & taste, foregoing the nutritional value of fresh farm produce. The long term health effects of these foods are shocking! Look at these statistics:
One meal at a fast food restaurant contains all the calories you need for an entire day.
- A study published in the Journal of Adolescence Health found that eating just
one serving of French fries per week during adolescence increased women’s breast cancer risk later in life by 27%
. How many children below the age of 17 do you know that eat more than one serving of french fries per week? I know a couple.
- A study published in Circulation found that
eating fast food one time per week increased the risk of dying from coronary heart disease by 20%
— a risk that grew to 50% for people eating fast food two or three times per week.
Below is a 1970 KFC AD
With the entrant of international fast food chains into the Kenyan Market, more & more families are taking their children to these joints for meals.
Brands such as KFC & Burger King being considered luxury fast food chains due to their global presence which was heavily advertised through movies & social media to Kenyans who couldn’t access them. They were welcomed by Kenyans with open wallets and huge appetite.
But the biggest fans of these fast food chains aren’t the ones opening their wallets but young children(U.K bans KFC advertisement targeting Kids), still developing & who are more attracted to how something looks and tastes rather than its effects on long term health & benefits. Some parents understand the risks of feeding their children on junk food but due to their busy schedule prefer the convenience and availability of buying a family meal at the nearest fast food outlet.
This article describes some important ways in which junk food harms children’s health.
Negative Aspects of Junk Food
Regular junk food intake leads to long-term health problems such as obesity, accompanying emotional and self-esteem problems, and chronic illnesses in later life. A single fast food meal could add 160 and 310 extra kilocalories to the daily caloric intake for teenagers and younger children, respectively.
Lack of vitamins such as A and C, and minerals such as magnesium and calcium, encourage the development of deficiency diseases and osteoporosis, as well as dental caries due to higher sugar intake.
The presence of hazardous food coloring agents and/or unhealthy trans fats in many fast food items, and issues with food preparation safety, often complicate the issue further.
Eating a lot of fast food in childhood makes it hard to eat healthy in later life, even if related medical problems are already evident, because childhood food habits solidify by adulthood. The addictive taste of fast food makes it quite unlikely that the palate will later savor the less complicated and less spicy flavors of ordinary food.
Fast food can lead to impaired academic performance because high sugar levels followed by sugar crashes and poor concentration levels make it difficult to accomplish tasks which need extended periods of focused attention. Blood sugar fluctuations can also result in mood swings and lack of alertness, lowering classroom participation.
Fast food can inhibit participation in extracurricular activities because it doesn’t provide adequate nutrients for physical activity. Lack of physical activity not only keeps children out of peer groups but also impairs physical and mental health.
Pop and cola drinks often contain caffeine which can make bedtime an ordeal by postponing normal sleep-wake cycles.
Obesity can result in lowered self-esteem, and perhaps depression. Some children who eat junk food are at risk of developing depression even without obesity. Depression in turn affects growth and development parameters, academic performance, and social relationships. It also results in a higher risk of suicide.
Essential fatty acids are typically missing or lacking in fast foods. These include omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids which cannot be produced within the body, but are essential for the manufacture of cell membranes, and are also required in high concentrations within the brain and retina. The lack of such nutrients is thought to be associated with increased antisocial behavior, and perhaps with hyperactivity, though more research is needed to prove this.
Giving your child a healthy balanced diet, you are ensuring that they are getting all the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that children need for healthy growth and development. Eating of Junk/Fast food should at least be regulated and kids educated on the importance of fresh & healthy foods.