A new study attaches some shocking numbers to the risk of diabetes, heart disease and death caused by fast food.
FAST FOOD, DIABETES, HEART DISEASE AND DEATH
The United States has long been a prolific exporter of products that reflect our unique culture. American movies, books, music, musical instruments, iPhones, iPads, automobiles, motorcycles… and fast food can all be found in all but the remotest places on the planet. While, arguably, some these quintessentially American exports are more prized than others by global consumers, American-style fast food has become utterly ubiquitous throughout the world.
By now, almost everyone knows that deep-fried fast food is not a healthy eating choice. Now, a newly published public health study sheds some important light on just how unhealthy American-style fast food really is. This new clinical study appears in the current issue of the journal Circulation.
Between 1993 and 1998, more than 50,000 ethnically Chinese men and women in Singapore participated in the Singapore Chinese Health Study. These men and women ranged in age from 45 to 74 years. The health outcomes of these research volunteers were then followed until the end of 2009.
All of the Singaporean Chinese participants in this clinical study were thoroughly assessed with respect to their lifestyle and dietary habits. For the purposes of this public health study, these volunteers were separated into two groups. The first group consisted of men and women who ate a traditional low-fat Chinese-style diet. The second group of study volunteers ate American-style fast food meals at least two times per week. The health outcomes of these two groups of Singaporean Chinese adults were then prospectively monitored, and, ultimately, with rather dramatic findings.
When compared to the men and women who never ate fast food, the volunteers who regularly consumed fast food meals had a 27 percent higher incidence of adult-onset diabetes (type 2 diabetes mellitus). Even more disturbing, these Singaporean Chinese fast food lovers experienced a 56 percent increase in the risk of death due to heart disease! Moreover, these worrisome outcomes remained consistent even after adjusting for differences in overall calorie intake and body weight. While there may or may not be genetic differences in the way that ethnic Chinese adults respond to high levels of fatty and fried foods when compared to Westerners, the links between fast food, on the one hand, and diabetes and cardiovascular disease, on the other hand, are well established in both western and eastern populations around the world. Therefore, the findings of this innovative public health study should give all of us pause before we pull into the drive-in window of our favorite fast food restaurant!
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Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity
Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author
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