Fast food; It means food that is prepared in a short time and offered for sale in peddlers, kiosks and restaurants for immediate consumption or as a package. Many foods such as hamburgers, french fries and pizza offered for sale are considered fast food. Excessive consumption of such foods is harmful.
Contrary to popular belief, fast food did not first appear in the United States. Most fast food products date back to Europe centuries ago. Fast food products are also mentioned in the 1598 London survey and in the periods when the history of England of the 1840 and 1850 periods is told. We can even take the emergence of fast food-style products even further back. The hamburgers we love to eat today are actually steaks that were eaten by many
tribes, especially Tatars, in the Baltic regions of Russia during the Middle Ages. Tatars introduced this delicious meat to the Germans in the port of Hamburg, and the Germans began to consume this meat by adding onions after frying it.
Those who immigrated from Germany to the “new world” USA carried this flavor there. In addition, there are those who say that they consumed hamburger and pizza type foods, which were considered as fast food products of the Romans in the years before Christ.
Established in the USA in the 1950s, companies selling fast food type foods have grown so much in this field that they have become organizations with billions of liras in profit and thousands of branches.
Naturally, when fast food types such as hamburger and pizza are mentioned, it was inevitable that the USA comes to mind first. Mc Donalds, which serves 69 million people a day, is the leader of this sector, followed by brands such as KFC and Burger King, which we are all familiar with.
Studies conducted in China, America, France and many other countries indicate that ‘fast food’ consumption is associated with obesity, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Kidney diseases
- Liver diseases
- Insulin resistance
There are many reasons for this in terms of today’s advertising and marketing, nutritional biochemistry and social sciences.
First of all, what comes to mind when fast food is mentioned is not only foods such as hamburgers and fries, but also the carbonated drinks that accompany them. Most of these sodas contain up to 10 times more sugar than the sugar in fast food. Excess sugar causes us to eat more and become addicted to sugar in the long run.
An extension of sugar consumption is the reward-punishment mechanism. Reward systems in our brains have evolved to reward behaviors that encourage us to survive. While meeting our basic needs such as eating, this reward system comes into play and a chemical substance called dopamine is released.
We also perceive this oscillation as “pleasure”; that is, what we call “pleasure” is actually the sensations created in our brain by this hormone secreted from our brain. We prefer these ‘pleasure centers’ that we know will make us happy, rather than eating in an unknown place. This situation causes us to increase the consumption of fast food wherever we are in the world.
Calories also reinforce the reward mechanism! So the reason we want to choose fast food is not a cheese or sauce we like, but calories. High-calorie foods directly affect the brain reward system. In an experiment by scientists with mice lacking sugar taste receptors, the mice were
provided with regular water and sugar water. Although the mice preferred normal water at first, after a while they started to turn to sugar water. Our brain can recognize and prefer a calorie diet even if it does not perceive the taste.
Dopamine is not the only hormone that causes us to prefer fast food. The GIP hormone, which controls insulin and energy expenditure, and the leptin hormone, which creates a feeling of satiety and informs us to stop eating, also play a direct role in this process.
When fatty foods are consumed, the level of GIP in the body increases and goes to the hypothalamus. And there it delays the feeling of satiety by preventing leptin from working. This causes us to eat more than we need. Fast food aims to manipulate this process thanks to the excessive fatty foods it contains and causes us to consume even more fast food.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a derivative of glutamic acid and passes as a salt in acidity. MSG stimulates taste receptors, allowing you to perceive food more deliciously and to accept it easily. The use of monosodium glutamate is a controversial issue in terms of ethics and food science.
Although some studies say that it can be harmful if consumed in excess, many countries’ health departments have approved the use of MSG and FDA categorize it as “generally safe”.
The fact that fast food can be much cheaper than many alternatives can also be seen as a factor affecting people’s preference. However, this is an illusion. Because it is fast and accessible, it is consumed more than needed, and the treatment costs of the diseases it causes will become more expensive in the future.
Therefore, a certain diet may seem a little cheaper, a little easier, a little more accessible than another in the short term; however, if it causes chronic diseases that are difficult to treat in the long term, that “cheap and quick” diet may be seen to be much more expensive and challenging.
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