Running head: HEALTHY EATING: TEENS AND FAST-FOOD 1
Healthy Eating: Teens and Fast-Food Restaurants
University of Phoenix
HEALTHY EATING: TEENS AND FAST-FOOD 2
“While many parents think fast-food is harmless to a typical teen's diet, it can cause weight
problems as well as health problems that can follow them thru adulthood.”
HEALTHY EATING: TEENS AND FAST-FOOD 3
Healthy Eating: Teens and Fast-Food Restaurants
How would you like your teen to be like my cousin? I have a cousin who weights almost 500lbs
and she is in her early twenties. Her parents found it easier to feed her fast-food for her meals,
due to their busy schedules while she was growing up. She has a lot of health issues now and
fights to live every day. She has problems breathing, walking and has type 2 diabetes. If she had
been taught at a young age about eating healthy she would not have these issues today. The
statistics show that teens that eat fast-food more than twice per week are over weight and end up
with health issues. My cousin is a good example that this is true.
Parents today do not watch what their children eat on a daily basis. Parents are working long
hours or just in a rush to get teens to soccer practice or gymnastics. The fast way to feed their
family and keep to their busy schedules is to stop at a fast-food restaurant on the way. The
children eat in the car while the parent is eating and driving them where they need to be. This
lifestyle is part of the problem. When teens are use to this, they tend to snack on unhealthy food
as well. Parents tend to purchase unhealthy snacks that are fast and available. When teens go to
the cabinet for a snack it is not fruit and vegetables that they see. It is snack cakes, and candy.
Teens that grow up from childhood eating this way will continue as teens and young adults.
“Home food environment of families who ate fast food for dinner more than three times a week
consisted of more chips and soda pop and less fruits and vegetables than families who ate fast
food less than three times a week. A higher frequency of fast food dinners was also associated
with obesity (University of Minnesota, 2007)”. This is why teens with two working parents are
more at risk to become obese.
Obesity in teens continues to dramatically increase during the 1990’s (Palo Alto Medical
HEALTHY EATING: TEENS AND FAST-FOOD 4
Foundation n.d.). One reason is due to the consumption of fast-food more than twice per week.
More teens are left to themselves to find something to eat when at friends homes or out on the
town. The easy thing for a teen is to have fast-food to curb their hunger. Teens with a fast-food
restaurant within walking distance from their school are also at higher risk of obesity. This gives
them access to eat lunch there every day. One meal at a fast food restaurant is typically the
equivalent of a full day’s calorie intake (Andrews, 2007). “After 15 years, those who
ate at fast-food restaurants more than twice each week compared to less than once a week had
gained an extra ten pounds” (National Institutes of Health 2004). “Among children and teens
ages six to 19, 15 percent are overweight according to the 1999-2000 data, or triple what the
proportion was in 1980” (Palo Alto Medical Foundation n.d.). This means “almost 9 million
teens have weight problems” (Palo Alto Medical Foundation n.d.) and will have health issues in
the future if they are not taught what is healthy and good for them to eat. For teens and parents,
higher frequency of fast food meals was associated with eating significantly fewer fruits and
vegetables and drinking less milk. More fast food around the dinner table also meant pantry
shelves were stocked with more salty snacks and soda, creating poor access to healthy foods at
home. Parents who ate fast food often were more likely to be overweight than those who ate it
less (University of Minnesota, 2007). Teens that live close to these restaurants are at high risk for
obesity due to daily consumption during lunch. The risk factors for health issues in over weight
teens increases with every extra pound they put on.
Teens with weight issues are at risk for a number of health problems including heart disease,
type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and some forms of cancer (Palo Alto Medical
Foundation n.d.). These health issues will follow teens into their adulthood. Being overweight
can also affect a person's joints, breathing, sleep, mood, and energy levels. The numbers of
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health issues that can arise for a teen overweight are great. They all start out with the weight
issue and end in health concerns that a teen should not have to deal with at such a young age.
Some teens health issues can also be a large factor in their weight issue. The majority of teens
that are unhappy for any reason (fights with classmates, parents, and lack of boyfriend or
girlfriend) they eat. The majority of teens never take the time to fix something healthy they go
for what is fast and available.
These health issues are very serious and could end with death. Teens should be made aware
by both their doctors and parents to these health issues and what the teens can expect in the
future. Most teens are very smart, and when health issues are explained in detail they will make
the correct choice to get healthy and well again. Teens have proven over the years that when well
informed about a subject they can and will make the right choice. Teens should be taught the
health issues that can arise from certain fast-food ingredients, to assist them when they are
looking for something to eat or snack.
Most teens do not have a clue regarding what ingredients are put into their food when eating
at fast food restaurants. For starters, McDonald’s eggs are made with the following ingredients;
sodium acid pyrophosphate, citric acid, and monosodium for starters (Andrews, 2007). These
ingredients are not only bad for your weight but some are not even allowed to be used in the
making of cat food as they have not been proven safe for animals (Andrews, 2007). Salads can
usually be counted on to be a "what you see is what you get" item. But McDonald's adds some
interesting ingredients. Several salads have either cilantro lime glaze, or orange glaze
added. Along with many of McDonald's sauces, both the cilantro lime glaze and the orange glaze
contain propylene glycol alginate. While propylene glycol is considered "GRAS" for human
consumption, it is not legal for use in cat food because the safety hasn't been proven yet.
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Propylene glycol is also used “As the killing and preserving agent in pitfall traps, usually used to
capture ground beetles” (Andrews, 2007). Some ingredients in fast foods can not be found in
local grocery stores because they are not food. They can be found at your local hardware store,
and low tox-antifreeze is one example (Andrews, 2007). This item and others like it are
consumed on a daily basis by teens today. These ingredients are some of the reasons teens have
weight issues, which causes health problems in the future. A Big MAC has 540 calories
(Andrews, 2007). Teens that eat at their local McDonald’s might consume one of these a day.
Add fries and a large soft drink and there went the day’s calorie allowance and possibly half of
tomorrow’s. All fast-food restaurants use the same ingredients to preserve their food (Andrews,
2007). The food is pre-made and shipped to each restaurant and needs to be preserved for the
“Limiting fast food intake at home is one way families can attempt to improve eating habits
and the overall health of the family” (University of Minnesota, 2007). Teen’s that are not
properly taught how to eat healthy have weight and health issues that can follow them into
adulthood. Study’s show fast food eating more than twice a week causes weight issues in teens
that will follow with health issues. A teen can become a type 2 diabetic or have heart problems.
For parents interested in keeping their teens healthy they need to make sure their children are
taught how to eat healthy as children so these good habits are practiced into the teen years.
If after reading the facts I stated in my essay about fast-food being unhealthy, you still do not
believe it. Please reread my introduction about my cousin. Nobody wants to go thru the things
she has had to endure over the years. Parents need to take the time to teach their children about
healthy eating and the issues that can arise if they do not take care of themselves as they get
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National Institutes of Health (December 30, 2004) Eating at Fast-food Restaurants More than
Twice Per Week is Associated with More Weight Gain and Insulin Resistance in Otherwise
Healthy Young Adults
Retrieved 7/18/09 from http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/dec2004/nhlbi-30.htm
Palo Alto Medical Foundation (n.d.) Teen Obesity, Retrieved 7/18/09 from
Andrews, J. (2007) Surprise Ingredients in Fast Food. Citizen Journalist. Retrieved on 7/18/09
University of Minnesota (2007, January 9). Fast Food As Family Meals Limits Healthy Food
Intake, Increases Obesity Risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved on (7/18/09) from