Junk food / fast food

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Latest studies on junk food, fast food and binge eating, emotional eating, food addiction, weight and obesity

Demonizing Processed Foods: It’s the Additives, Stupid  Medscape (Aug 30, 2017) by George D. Lundberg, MD – [It]  seems like everyone, including me, is down on “processed food.” Has that become a knee-jerk mantra? What is processed food? Is it always bad? Processed food is any food that has been altered from its natural state in some way, either for safety reasons or convenience. Cooking, freezing, canning, drying, and pasteurizing are examples—many quite healthy. Thus, “processed food” is not the demon. One must look at what the process was and, more particularly, what has been added. The answer is, a whole lot of stuff has been added. … more

‘Environmental entrapment’: Is the food industry conspiring to make you fat? National Post (Aug 10, 2017) by Sara FL Kirk & Jessie-Lee McIsaac – Our current food environment sets us up for healthy food choice failure. Yet when we overeat and gain weight, society is there to dole out blame and shame. … It is now widely accepted that we are living in a food environment that does not value health. This “obesogenic environment” does not provide a set of rules to ensure easy and equitable access to healthy, affordable food. And evidence is mounting that some foods, particularly those high in fat, salt and sugar, are not easy to resist. … Food addiction actually shares common brain activity with alcohol addiction. … more

Junk Science or Junk Food? Experts Debate Sugar Guidelines  Medscape (Dec 19, 2016) by Marcia Frellick – Guidelines on dietary sugar published over the past 20 years do not meet the criteria for trustworthy recommendations for reasons that include low-quality evidence and inconsistent advice, say the authors of a new review published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine. …more

Junk food shortening lives of children worldwide, data shows  The Guardian (Oct 7, 2016) by Sarah Bosely — Obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure at unprecedented levels due to spread of fast food and sugary drinks. Junk food and sugary drinks are taking an enormous toll on children around the world, with soaring numbers who are obese and millions developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure previously seen only in adults, data has revealed. … more

Sleep loss boosts hunger, unhealthy food choices   ScienceDaily  (Feb 29, 2016) – Cutting  back on sleep boosts levels of a chemical signal that can enhance the pleasure of eating snack foods and increase caloric intake, report investigators. It may be part of a mechanism that encourages overeating, leading to weight gain, they say. … more

The Strange Link Between Junk Food and Depression Time Magazine (June 29, 2015) by Mandy Oaklander – Some — but not all— sugars were associated with depressive disorders. Of our many modern diseases, one of the biggest burdens on society is an unexpected one: depression, according to the World Health Organization. And what we eat may be contributing, finds a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. more …

Does a junk food diet make you lazy? Psychology study offers answer   ScienceDaily (Apr 4, 2014) – A new psychology study provides evidence that being overweight makes people tired and sedentary, rather than vice versa. Life scientists placed 32 female rats on one of two diets for six months. The first, a standard rat’s diet, consisted of relatively unprocessed foods like ground corn and fish meal. The ingredients in the second were highly processed, of lower quality and included substantially more sugar — a proxy for a junk food diet. more …

5 shocking reasons why Americans are getting fatter. It’s not just the fast food…   Salon (Mar 13, 2014) by Martha Rosenberg of Alternet –Americans have become huge. Between the 1960s and the 2000s, Americans grew, on the average, an inch taller and 24 pounds heavier. The average American man today weights 194 pounds and the average woman 165 pounds. The growing girth has led to the creation of special-sized ambulances, operating tables and coffins as well as bigger seats on planes and trains. Almost a third of American children and teens are overweight, but 84 percent of parents believe their children are at a healthy weight in one study. Why? The adults are probably overweight too.   More …

These disturbing fast food truths will make you reconsider your lunch   Huffington Post (Nov 20, 2013) by Renee Jacques – McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell — which one are you craving today? … As of 2012, there were 263,944 fast food restaurants in America with a combined revenue of well over $100 billion.  With a Gallup poll revealing that 8 in 10 Americans eat fast food at least monthly and half saying they eat it weekly, these companies know they have a good thing going. … [but] you might want to truly evaluate what’s going on with your fast food. Here are some truths that may make you wonder … Link

A maternal junk food diet alters development of opioid pathway in the offspring  ScienceDaily (July 30, 2013) – Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, shows that eating a junk-food diet during pregnancy changes the development of the opioid signalling pathway in the baby’s brain and permanently alters the way this system operates after birth.   Link

Eating junk food may make you crave even more junk food   Today: Health (June 28, 2013) We know that eating highly-processed carb-heavy foods is not great for us. But we tend to gobble up the food and move on with our lives, telling ourselves we’ll eat healthier at the next meal. But evidence is building that, at least for some of us, our brains don’t quite work that way.  A small study published this week shows that hours after we eat a highly-processed meal with lots of carbohydrates – think white bread, or potato chips – we start to crave more of these junk foods.   Link  

Consumers largely underestimating calorie content of fast food   ScienceDaily (May 23, 2013) — People eating at fast food restaurants largely underestimate the calorie content of meals, especially large ones, according to a new article.  From 2006 to 2010 many American states and cities passed laws requiring chain restaurants to print calorie content on menus. The US Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 included a provision that will require all restaurant chains with more than 20 US sites to print calorie content on menus.  Link

Super-sized citizens: The relationship between a country’s fast-food outlets and its obesity rates   ScienceDaily (May 10, 2013 — Many studies have linked the meals served at fast-food outlets to obesity, but is there a relationship between the number of restaurants in a country and the girth of its population?  To answer this question, an international team of health experts looked at the number of Subway restaurants per 100,000 people in 26 economically advanced countries. They also considered other factors…    Link

Revealing the scientific secrets of why people can’t stop after eating one potato chip   ScienceDaily (Apr. 11, 2013) — The scientific secrets underpinning that awful reality about potato chips — eat one and you’re apt to scarf ’em all down — began coming out of the bag today in research presented at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society…the results shed light on the causes of a condition called “hedonic hyperphagia” that plagues hundreds of millions of people around the world.  “That’s the scientific term for ‘eating to excess for pleasure, rather than hunger…recreational over-eating that may occur in almost everyone at some time in life. And the chronic form is a key factor in the epidemic of overweight and obesity that here in the United States threatens health problems for two out of every three people.”   Link

Second-hand junk food   U.S. News & World Report (Mar. 28, 2013) by Yoni Freedhoff – In my regular battles against the unhealthy new normals of our modern-day, “Willy Wonkian” dietary dystopia, one of the common arguments I hear to oppose any sort of food regulation is that, unlike from tobacco smoke, no one ever got sick from second-hand junk food.   I disagree.   Second-hand junk food is everywhere.    Link

Celebrity endorsement encourages children to eat junk food   ScienceDaily (Mar. 8, 2013) — A study by the University of Liverpool has found that celebrity endorsement of a food product encourages children to eat more of the endorsed product. It also found that children were prompted to eat more of the endorsed product when they saw the celebrity on TV in a different context.   Link

Eating junk food while pregnant may make your child a junk food addict  ScienceDaily (Feb. 28, 2013) — Here’s another reason why a healthy diet during pregnancy is critical to the future health of your children: New research published in the March 2013 issue of The FASEB Journal, suggests that pregnant mothers who consume junk food actually cause changes in the development of the opioid signaling pathway in the brains of their unborn children. This change results in the babies being less sensitive to opioids, which are released upon consumption of foods that are high in fat and sugar. In turn, these children, born with a higher “tolerance” to junk food need to eat more of it to achieve a “feel good” response.  Link

The extraordinary science of addictive junk food   New York Times (Feb. 20, 2013) by Michael Moss – On  the evening of April 8, 1999, a long line of Town Cars and taxis pulled up to the Minneapolis headquarters of Pillsbury and discharged 11 men who controlled America’s largest food companies. Nestlé was in attendance, as were Kraft and Nabisco, General Mills and Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Mars. Rivals any other day, the C.E.O.’s and company presidents had come together for a rare, private meeting. On the agenda was one item: the emerging obesity epidemic and how to deal with it. While the atmosphere was cordial, the men assembled were hardly friends. Their stature was defined by their skill in fighting one another for what they called “stomach share” — the amount of digestive space that any one company’s brand can grab from the competition.   Link

Softer fast food restaurant lighting and music can cut calorie intake 18 percent   ScienceDaily (Aug. 28, 2012) — Your mood for food can be changed by a restaurant’s choice of music and lighting, leading to increased satisfaction and reduced calorie intake, according to a new study.   Link

Junk food laws may help curb childhood obesity: Study     Huffington Post (Aug. 13, 2012) by Lindsey Tanner  — Laws strictly curbing school sales of junk food and sweetened drinks may play a role in slowing childhood obesity, according to a study that seems to offer the first evidence such efforts could pay off.   The results come from the first large national look at the effectiveness of the state laws over time. They are not a slam-dunk, and even obesity experts who praised the study acknowledge the measures are a political hot potato, smacking of a “nanny state” and opposed by industry and cash-strapped schools relying on food processors’ money.   Link

Less couch time equals fewer cookies    ScienceDaily (May 28, 2012) — Simply ejecting your rear from the couch means your hand will spend less time digging into a bag of chocolate chip cookies.  That is the simple but profound finding … simply changing one bad habit has a domino effect on others. Knock down your sedentary leisure time and you’ll reduce junk food and saturated fats because you’re no longer glued to the TV and noshing. It’s a two-for-one benefit because the behaviors are closely related. Link

Tracking the junk food the world eats after dark   NPR’s Food Blog: The Salt (May 22, 2012) by Ted Burnham – People around the world show remarkable similarity in their daily eating habits: meals start off healthy in the morning, but get progressively worse throughout the day – until by nightfall we’re deep into junk food territory. Just take a look at these images from mobile startup Massive Health.   Link

Familiarity with television fast-food ads linked to obesity   ScienceDaily (Apr. 29, 2012) — There is a long-held concern that youths who eat a lot of fast food are at risk for becoming overweight. New research presented April 29, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Boston shows that greater familiarity with fast-food restaurant advertising on television is associated with obesity in young people.  Link

The pervasiveness of junk food advertising to children   National Post  (Apr 6, 2012) by Jeannie Marshall – In the following book excerpt, Jeannie Marshall describes her efforts to shield her son from the lure of ‘packaged cakes, chocolate bars, cookies, yogurt-like products and ice cream’: … I noticed that Nico was becoming more agitated after watching television, that he would want to eat things that we didn’t have in our refrigerator or cupboards, and that he would recognize children’s food products when he saw them in the supermarket or in the hands of one of his little stroller-bound peers.   Link

Got a sweet tooth? Here are some tips on how to conquer it  Postmedia News  (Mar. 30, 2012) – Whether you are struggling with bingeing or are simply wondering how best to manage cravings for junk food, you have choices.  Link

French fries aren’t healthy, but they aren’t pathogens   The Globe and Mail (Feb. 20, 2012) – E. coli and Listeria are dangerous pathogens, but what about French fries, snack foods and candy? A medical journal article goes too far in saying junk foods deserve the same label.  Three experts in Alberta, writing in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, say products with sodium, simple sugars, saturated and trans fats in excess of physiological needs justify the label of pathogen.  Link

Fatty food bad for you?  It may be a no-brainer    Postmedia News (Dec. 28, 2011) by Sharon Kirkey – Researchers have found that there’s a part of your body that might actually shrink when you eat too much fast food. Unfortunately, it’s your brain. People with diets high in trans fats are more likely to experience the kind of brain shrinkage associated with Alzheimer’s disease than people who consume less of the artery-damaging fats, the new study suggests.  Link

Early death by junk food?  High levels of phosphate in sodas and processed foods accelerate the aging process in mice   ScienceDaily (Apr. 28, 2010) — Here’s another reason to kick the soda habit. New research published online in the FASEB Journal shows that high levels of phosphates may add more “pop” to sodas and processed foods than once thought. That’s because researchers have found that the high levels of phosphates accelerate signs of aging. High phosphate levels may also increase the prevalence and severity of age-related complications, such as chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular calcification, and can also induce severe muscle and skin atrophy.   Link

Junk food addiction may be clue to obesity: High-calorie bingeing as addictive as cocaine, rat study shows   msnbc.com (Mar. 29, 2010) by JoAnne Allen, Reuters – Bingeing on high-calorie foods may be as addictive as cocaine or nicotine, and could cause compulsive eating and obesity, according to a study.  The findings in a study of animals cannot be directly applied to human obesity, but may help in understanding the condition and in developing therapies to treat it, researchers wrote Sunday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.   Link

Don’t blame fast food for making you fat:  Fat epidemic linked to chemicals run amok msnbc.com  (Mar. 8, 2010) – by Stephen Perrine with Heather Hurlock.   It’s not just about calories in versus calories out.  If that were all it took to lose weight — eating a little less and exercising a little more — then weight loss would be as simple as grade-school math: Subtract Y from Z and end up with X.  But if you’ve ever followed a diet program and achieved less than your desired result, you probably came away feeling frustrated, depressed, and maybe a bit guilty. What did I do wrong?   Link

Is your junk food habit making you depressed?  Processed food can bring down your mood, a new study finds    msnbc.com (Jan. 15, 2010) by Megan Othersen Gorman— A study published in The British Journal of Psychiatry makes a strong case that processed junk food can trigger or contribute to depression, while eating whole and healthy food seems protective. British and French epidemiologists analyzed food and mood data from 3,486 men and women (average age 55) in the Whitehall II study on London-based office staff. Link

Mice can eat ‘junk’ and not get fat: Researchers find gene that protects high-fat-diet mice from obesity  ScienceDaily (Sep. 4, 2009) — University of Michigan researchers have identified a gene that acts as a master switch to control obesity in mice. When the switch is turned off, even high-fat-diet mice remain thin.  Link

Eating quickly and until full triples risk of being overweight   ScienceDaily (Oct. 22, 2008) — The combination of eating quickly and eating until full trebles the risk of being overweight, according to a study published on the British Medical Journal website.  Until the last decade or so most adults did not have the opportunity to consume enough energy to enable fat to be stored. However, with the increased availability of inexpensive food in larger portions, fast food, and fewer families eating together and eating while distracted (e.g. while watching TV), eating behaviors are changing, and this may be contributing to the obesity epidemic.  Link

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