Those who ate fast food twice a week or more gained 10 pounds more and were twice as likely to develop insulin resistance, which is linked to diabetes, than those who ate it less than once a week, even after other lifestyle factors were accounted for.
Yet even though fast food is known to be of poor nutritional quality, the fast-food industry claims it can be part of a healthful diet, researchers said. This is what prompted them to set the record straight once and for all.
In the study, which was the first long-term effort to study the relationship between eating fast food and diabetes, researchers followed 3,000 young people for 15 years, monitoring medical checkups and asking questions about diet, physical activity and other lifestyle factors.
Researchers said the findings suggest that fast food, as it is presently consumed, cannot be considered part of a healthy lifestyle. The huge portion sizes and high-caloric density of most fast foods were likely the primary cause of the obesity link, they said.
Some fast-food chains have begun offering healthier food choices, such as fruit, salads and bottled water instead of soda, but researchers say these trends, though moving in the right direction, are "weak."
One obesity expert commented that, although the study's conclusions are likely true, fast food restaurants are simply responding to society's desire for quick, inexpensive food. He said informing consumers on food quality and the health effects of fast food is one of the key improvements that needs to be made.
Lancet January 1, 2005;365(9453):36-42
USA Today December 31, 2004
This study provides scientific proof from Harvard that the conclusions that Morgan Spurlock reached in his amazing video, Super Size Me are true. I strongly believe that his video should be required viewing for all school children. It is one of the few videos that I have purchased. If you have children you simply must rent or purchase this video. Supersize Me is admittedly an extreme example of the ill effects of fast food, but in this study the researchers found that eating fast food even two times a week or more could double your chances of developing insulin resistance, which often leads to full-blown diabetes, while packing on 10 extra pounds.
One of the best things that you can do for yourself and your family is to carve out some time to prepare healthy food. If you want to get or stay healthy, someone is just simply going to have to spend some serious time in the kitchen. The time you save by eating at fast food restaurants is not worth the future health complications it could cause. Please avoid exchanging convenience for your health. Your health is far too precious to lose for a few moments of free time.
If you're thinking that you truly don't have the time to do this, don't miss my past article, Six Easy Ways to Get Better Nutrition Even if You Don't Have the Time.