|FAST FOOD: HOW BAD IS IT?|
Many people find themselves eating at a fast food restaurant getting a hamburger, French fries, and soda. If they only do it 1x per week, it can't be too bad, right? According to research published online on Jan. 22 2008 in the journal Circulation, if you eat this way you are increasing your risk for metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors that include high blood pressure, increased waist size, low levels of HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high fasting blood sugar levels. If you have three or more of these factors, it significantly increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The incidence of metabolic syndrome has risen in recent years, and this change is associated with fast food consumption and lack of exercise.
In this study, researchers reviewed data from 9,514 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities (ARIC) study. Dietary questionnaires were used to categorize participants' eating habits as either a Western dietary pattern, characterized by refined grains, processed meat, fried foods, red meat, eggs and soda, or a prudent pattern, which included cruciferous vegetables and carotenoid vegetables, fruit, fish and seafood, poultry, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. The subjects, who were between the ages of 45 and 64 at the beginning of the study, were followed for nine years.
At the end of the follow-up period, 40% of the participants had developed metabolic syndrome, not including those who had the condition at the beginning of the study. Greater adherence to the Western diet was associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome. When individual foods were examined, eating two or more servings of meat per day was associated with a 25% greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Fried foods and diet soda were also linked with increased risk.
"Fried foods are typically synonymous with commonly eaten fast foods, so I think it is safe to say that these findings support a link between fast-food consumption and an increase in metabolic risk factors," Dr Steffen, one of the researchers, observed.
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