Truth About Food

honest, raw truth about the food we eat

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The Truth About Junk Food
maidenend wrote in truthaboutfood
The definition most commonly found for the term “junk food” is as follows: foods with little nutritional value that are high in calories, fat, sugar, salt, or caffeine. Examples: breakfast cereals, candies, chips, cookies, french fries, gum, hamburger, hot dogs, ice cream, sodas, and most sweet desserts. Junk food didn’t become part of the American diet until the 1920’s. It wasn’t until nearly 25 years later that junk food became so accessible and such a large part of the average Americans daily diet that nutritionists became concerned. The actual term “junk food” didn’t exist until the 1960’s when the concern began to rise. Since then there has been a large amount of research and studies done on junk food and its effects on the human body.

Junk food contains many of the same fats and additives that “fast food” does (considering many fast food items are considered junk food.) These fats trigger the hormones in the human body and brain to crave more, creating an addictive effect that can last several days. Some research even suggests that junk food alters brain activity in a manner similar to drugs like cocaine or heroin. One study conducted on rats (I personally do not agree with animals testing, but I found this information interesting) by Paul Johnson and Paul Kenny at The Scripps Research Institute showed that after several weeks on a junk food diet, the pleasure centers of rat brains became desensitized, requiring more food for pleasure. After the junk food was taken away and replaced with a healthy diet, the rats starved for two weeks instead of eating the nutritious food that was provided.

The harmful effects of eating junk food are nearly endless, much like the additives and preservatives found in its ingredients. One common ingredient used in junk food is Corn dextrin. Corn dextrin is commonly used in junk food as a thickener. Know what else it’s used in; the glue on envelopes and postage stamps. Another ingredient found in some junk food is cellulose gum, to improve the texture of the food. Cellulose gum is also used in rocket fuel.

Junk food has been directly associated with the increase in obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers, tooth decay, and other diseases. Yet despite the growing concern of junk food and its harmful effects, the United States has a $23 billion candy market that continues to rise. In a given year, Americans will spend close to $2 billion on Easter candies and more than $2 billion on Halloween candy alone.

And possibly even more disturbing is how the companies that advertize for these foods purposely target our countries youth. Nearly eighty percent of food commercials aired during Saturday morning children shows are for junk food. For instance the fast food chains use of free toys with a kid’s meal. The fast food chains deliberately entice children with kid’s meals and bank on the children persuading their parents to give in, winning the chain not just one, but at least two customers depending on the family size.

Junk food targeted at children is filled with artificial flavors that can be twice as sweet as the artificial flavors in adult foods. Children are being programmed (successfully mind you) to prefer these artificial flavors over the taste of natural real foods. As if that alone isn’t bad enough, these artificial flavorings can cause asthma, rashes and hyperactivity.

In the United States, the average child watches somewhere around 25 hours of television a week. Studies have shown that in a given year a child could see nearly 20,000 advertisements on junk food alone. Break it down and you’ve got a child watching junk food advertisements 3 hours a week or once every five minutes in the 25 hour period that they watch television.

Back in 2006, the independent telecommunications regulator and competition authority for the communication industries (Ofcom) in the United Kingdom put a ban on Junk food ads during TV programs targeted at children under the age of 16 that went into affect January of 2007. More specifically the ban put a stop to junk food ads during all pre-school children's programs, all programs on mainstream channels aimed at children, All cable and satellite children's channels, programs aimed at young people, such as music shows and general entertainment programs which would appeal to a "higher than average" number of children aged 16 and under. Many British health campaigners criticized Ofcom’s regulations as not being strict enough and said that they should have banned all junk food ads before 9pm. In response, the food industry said that kind of restriction would be too "over the top".

The United States on the other hand has yet to pass ANY regulations in this type of manner. As far as what Ofcom has done for the youth of the United Kingdom, I applaud them. I understand the criticisms from the health campaigners, because more regulation would make even more of a statement to the junk food industry… but when I see how far ahead of the United States they are in preventing an obesity epidemic among their youth (which the United States has already reached) I can’t help but be envious of them. This is the type of movement we need here in the United States, but I have seen little to no foot work of our government going in that direction.

The future generations of America face a lot of things working against their health. We as adults need to set an example for them and stop eating the crap the food industry relies on us to buy. It’s cheap, easy and simple for them to manufacture… but it’s killing us. Out of convenience and eventually addiction, the people of the United States continue to give in to it. Junk food is everywhere, in our supermarkets, restaurants, convenience stores and in our homes. Stop buying the crap and make a stand that you will not allow this countries future to be doomed to a life of obesity and disease just because it tastes good. Cut the junk food, eat healthier, live better and longer.

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Just a note to say "thank you" for your insightful - and truthful - postings in this LJ community. Here in the U.S., health problems resultant from overindulgence in junk food, including obesity and its attendant problems, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabeties, etc., have reached alarming proportions. And too many Americans are in denial regarding this.

In fact, I recently debated the author of a very misinformed blog at WordPress; she stated obesity and other health problems caused by eating large quantities of junk food are a myth! When I pointed out the facts, she responded by saying that I'm "too judgemental" when I stated that I'm slender, that I stay away from junk food as much as possible, and because I had written to her 'Why eat yourself into an early grave?'. ! Go figure.

Please keep up the good work. :)

No thank you! For caring. I needed to channel my knowledge somewhere, and it's just my hope that enough people care to at least read. If not, then at least I'll have it for those of us who do. =)

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