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Latinos tend to live in neighborhoods with abundant fast food options and few sources of healthy, affordable foods, according to research by Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio (formerly SaludToday).
What happens when you eat a lot of unhealthy food at restaurants?
A new infographic by Healthline highlights 13 effects of eating highly processed, unhealthy food on the human body, including obesity:
Fast food isn’t necessarily bad, but in many cases it’s highly processed and contains large amounts of carbohydrates, added sugar, unhealthy fats, and salt (sodium).
These foods are often high in calories yet offer little or no nutritional value. When fast food frequently replaces nutritious foods in your diet, it can lead to poor nutrition, poor health, and weight gain. Tests in lab animals have even shown a negative effect in short duration diets. Being overweight is a risk factor for a variety of chronic health problems including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, most people underestimate the number of calories they’re eating in a fast-food restaurant. A 2013 study published in JAMA Pediatrics showed that children and adolescents take in more calories in fast food and other restaurants than at home. Eating at a restaurant added between 160 and 310 calories a day.
The infographic features studies that link unhealthy foods and drinks (often available at fast food restaurants) to depression, respiratory problems, acne and more.
Poor nutrition and obesity, of course, remain a large health threat.
“The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) reports that the number of fast food outlets has doubled since 1970, a period during which the number of obese Americans also doubled,” according to Healthline. “It’s likely that many factors have contributed to the obesity epidemic, but the correlation between the availability of cheap and fattening fast food and national weight increase is stark.”
So what can we do to improve?
Check out these heroes of healthy food access:
- Latina Filmmaker’s Web Series Helps Bodegas Push Healthier Foods
- Why Your Town Needs a Farmer’s Market
- Young Latina Innovator to Launch ‘MyFunFood’ App
- Texas Town Uses Free School Dinner to Energize Student Minds, Bodies
- Stephen Lucke Grows Gardens of Wellness in San Antonio
And help with school food!
A School Food Pantry accepts, stores, and redistributes donated and leftover food to students.
The new Salud America! “School Food Pantry Action Pack” is a free guide to help school personnel talk to decision-makers, work through logistics, and start a School Food Pantry to help hungry students and reduce local food insecurity.