You’re on the way home, with the kids in the back seat, and making that mental calculation: What’s in the fridge, again? Can I actually make a meal out of any of it? Then you pass by one of several brightly-lit signs, each beckoning: Simply drive up, and a warm dinner will be passed through your car window, letting you head home with a ready-made meal. It would be so easy.
But here’s just one more bit of evidence to help bolster you against the temptation: a new study published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood showing that—especially for children—fast food is just terrible for health.
The study, which observed 1948 British boys and girls ages 9-10, showed that regular consumption of fast food adds tons of calories while providing minimal nutrients.
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Doing this more than once a week lead to higher risks of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease. So it’s probably worth it to just take the extra 20 minutes and make something healthy when you get home.
Students from 85 different primary schools in the United Kingdom received health assessments based on diet recall, body fat mass, skinfold thickness, blood pressure, blood lipids, height, weight, and waist circumference. Of these students, the study found 28 percent ate takeout food at least once per week.
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Those students had significantly higher levels of LDL cholesterol—the harmful kind that comes from eating saturated fats—which has been linked to higher risk for coronary heart disease. This was the case regardless of ethnicity or socioeconomic status.
If that’s not enough to finally end your trips to Burger King, the study also found that fast food meals were super high calorie, but extremely low in nutrients and protein. “More frequent takeaway meal consumption was associated with higher dietary intakes of energy, fat energy and saturated fat energy, ... and lower starch, protein and micronutrient intakes,” the study authors wrote. All of that poor food leads to “adverse longer term consequences for obesity and coronary heart disease risk.
Keep that in mind the next time you’re driving past that fast food joint. Hopefully it’ll inspire you to keep going home, and whip up something healthy, instead. And if you need inspiration—we’ll always be here for you.