Dump the junk

Dump the junk
Who doesn’t have junk food? Some have it in small quantities while others can’t live without it. Young adults and children seem to be the most addicted to it.

In fact, excess consumption of junk food can affect one’s digestion. Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, chief clinical dietician and head of department of nutrition and dietetics, Apollo Hospitals, informs, “Many chemicals are required to devitalise unhealthy food which affects the digestive tract.

The detoxifying processes in the liver and kidney become overburdened with the excess amount of indigestible chemicals being thrown at them.This also slows down physical activity.”

She adds, “Children who eat fast food consume a lot of calories thanks to the fat, carbohydrates and added sugar content in these items. Additionally, these children also tend to consume less milk, less fibre and fewer fruits and non-starchy vegetables.Those who are obese are at a higher risk of pre-diabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea and social and psychological problems,” she says.

Paediatricians point out that children must make it a habit to eat healthy food and exercise or indulge in some physical activity regularly to help build their immunity. They must be taught to stick to a nutritious diet from an early age.

Dr Satyanarayana, a consultant at Chinmaya Mission Hospital, feels that the lack of physical activity and uncontrolled consumption of junk food among children will not only lead to obesity but also obesity-related complications early in life.

 “We have observed increasing cases of diabetes among children. Home-cooked food is hygienic when compared to street food or food cooked in hotels. Children who eat from wayside carts are prone to contracting typhoid and other water-borne diseases,” he cautions.

Dr Chittaranjan Andrade, professor and head, department of psychopharmacology, NIMHANS, informs that eating junk food leads to an increased risk of weight gain and obesity. “In the long run, the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and dementia also increases.” However, he doesn’t think junk food directly affects one’s immunity. He points out that people who eat more of junk food will be consuming less nutrients.

He observes that the young people are the most affected by junk food. “Parents find it easier to give their children packaged food than nutritious, home-cooked meals. Children and young adults are more likely to eat out with friends, and most street food and hotel food qualify as junk food, whether Indian or Western,” he states.

He feels people must start eating sensibly and recommends that parents should try to keep their children away from junk food for as long as possible. That’s when healthy eating becomes a habit, he explains.

People who eat out regularly say that they do watch what they eat. Rajashekar Murthy, an IT professional, says, “I always choose where I want to eat as I had fallen sick after eating out. I travel a lot on work and invariably end up eating out a lot.

I live alone as well and don’t have the time to cook.” Sakshi Sinha, a mother of two, says that her children consume both junk and healthy food. “They occasionally eat burgers and pizzas. But I’ve slowly started making the same at home to get them off the habit even if it is an occasional indulgence,” she adds.

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