Health care specialists have been advising the general public to cut back on fast food consumption for years, and for good reason. Recent data showed that poor dietary habits accounted for nearly half of all cardiometabolic deaths in the U.S. Researchers at the Tufts University in Massachusetts found that there were more than 702,000 cardiometabolic deaths among American adults in 2012. Forty-five percent of these deaths were linked to poor diet, researchers said.
Researchers also noted higher rates of diet-related cardiometabolic deaths in men compared with women. Cardiometabolic deaths associated with poor dietary choices were also more prevalent among people ages 25 to 54 years old. The risk of cardiometabolic deaths were 10% higher in African Americans and Hispanics compared with Caucasians.
Diets high in sodium and processed meats, commonly seen in fast food restaurants, increased the risk of cardiometabolic death, the study showed. On the other hand, the risk of cardiometabolic death remained stable for diets high in whole grain, vegetables, fruits and omega-3 fatty acid.
The skinny on diabetes, fast food link
According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), more than 29 million people in the U.S. were diagnosed with diabetes in 2015. The IDF also revealed that there were 219, 413 diabetes-related deaths in the country in 2015 alone. The estimated cost of diabetes was $10,941 per person. Diabetes remains the seventh most common cause of death in the U.S.
Previous studies have already established a link between fast food consumption and diabetes. A 2012 study published in the journal Circulation found that people who ate at fast food establishments two or more times a week had a 27% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. (RELATED: Follow more news about the health dangers of fast food at FastFood.news.)
An analysis of more than 3,000 African American and Caucasian respondents aged 18 to 30 showed that those who visited fast food chains two or more times per week gained 10 more pounds and increased insulin resistance than those who visited less. “While there have been many discussions about fast food’s effects on obesity, this appears to be the first scientific, comprehensive long-term study to show a strong connection between fast-food consumption, obesity, and risk for type 2 diabetes,” said study co-author Mark Pereira of the University of Minnesota. The results were published in the journal Lancet.
Eating specific fast food items also appeared to increase the risk of diabetes. An analysis of more than 44,000 participants revealed that women who ate burgers, fried chicken, or Chinese food more than once weekly had higher body mass index than those who did not eat fast food. Women who ate these items were also 40% to 70% more likely to develop type-2 diabetes than those who did not.
Studies implicate fast food in increased stroke risk
A study presented at the American Stroke Association’s annual International Stroke Conference revealed that neighborhoods with the highest number of fast food chains were 13% more likely to suffer stroke than areas with fewer fast food joints. Data also showed that each additional McDonald’s, Burger King, or Taco Bell raised the odds of stroke by 1%.
Another study published in the journal Circulation showed that people who ate fast food items at least once weekly were up to 20% more likely to suffer coronary heart disease than those who avoid eating out. Increased frequency of fast food consumption also coincided with higher cardiovascular risk, researchers said. According to the study, people who dined out two or more times per week had between 50% to 80% increased odds of coronary heart disease than those who avoided fast food joints.
“The big picture is that this [fast food] aspect of globalization and exportation of U.S. and Western culture might not be the best thing to spread to cultures around the world. Global public health efforts should focus on maintaining the positive aspects of traditional cultures, while preventing the spread of outside influences thought to be harmful based on the scientific evidence,” said senior researcher Mark Pereira.