Since coming to Penn State many things have changed regarding my everyday life. One aspect that has done a complete turn around is my frequency of consuming fast food. In roughly five weeks of college I have consumed more fast food meals than I had in the previous year. I associate this increase to the fact that I am staying up later and working with a smaller budget. Putting these excuses aside, I became curious about what exactly fast food does to a person. I don’t only mean physically, but also mentally and emotionally. I wanted to dive deep into the science of fast food and I came out with some pretty interesting results.
It is no secret that eating fast food is bad for your physical health. According to Health Line the high calorie, low protein meals contain massive amounts of sugar, carbohydrates and sodium. This can lead to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease and countless other physical problems. These diseases have all been directly linked to an unhealthy diet. In summary if you’re looking to lose weight, fast food restaurants are the last place you should go.
Fast food makes you fat, everyone knows that. Since I’m not too worried about my current weight, I wondered what other effects it has on people who are in shape. Live Healthy claims that an excess of fast food intake can lead to serious mental health issues. Fast food contains an excess of Omega-6 and trans fat that ultimately disrupt the chemical balance of the brain. This alteration can lead to depression, anxiety and other mental issues.
Harvard Health Publications has provided the public with some convincing research to support this claim. The team cites a study that found that individuals who eat a Western diet (full of greasy food) are 25-35% more likely to suffer from depression. The study simply separated two groups of people based on their eating habits. Then, the individuals were all given medical evaluations to determine their mental and physical health. The study concluded that individuals who indulged in unhealthy diets were simply less mentally healthy. The article explains that serotonin levels are altered by fast food intake. The western diet has an abundance of fatty acids that can alter the stomachs production of serotonin. Serotonin is produced in your gastrula intestine and can be responsible for a persons mood and behavior, which can have devastating effects on a persons mental and emotional health.
This study correlates with the claim that fast food leads to negative mental health. However it is entirely possible that reverse causation plays a factor, meaning that people who are less mentally healthy tend to eat unhealthier diets. It is possible that research on this topic suffer from the file drawer problem. With fast food companies making so much profit, financial influencing of studies is likely.
Despite these doubts, It is still extremely likely that the findings of these studies are legitimate. So next time you read the menu at a fast food restaurant don’t be only worried about which items all add inches to your waistline. Instead Keep in mind that eating this fatty food can have devastating effects on your mental health as well.