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How Come Junk Food is Still An Epidemic? by@arthur.tkachenko

How Come Junk Food is Still An Epidemic?

Arthur Hacker Noon profile picture



First part of this article:

1. How Is Junk Food Getting Into Our Homes and Bellies?

Advertising to children

Advertising to children is widely regarded as ethically problematic. Young children cannot distinguish between advertising and editorial or entertainment content; and older children, even if they rationally understand the selling intent behind advertising, are often still subject to its emotional and unconscious influence

Source: Marketing of Junk Food

Junk food advertising, which is linked to increased child weight and obesity, sharpens this ethical issue, compounding it with health concerns. From three years of age, children recognise more unhealthy than healthy food brand logos.

Source:Children are far from protected from junk food ads — especially on social media

Stores' checkout lines

About 90% of food items located at checkouts are unhealthy.

About 90% of the items available are unhealthy, the paper states, with candy accounting for 40% of offerings. And though supermarkets, supercentres and convenience stores offer more snacks at checkouts, there are still plenty of unhealthy options at stores that sell toys, clothing, home and bath supplies, hardware, books, electronics and sporting goods.

Many businesses may in fact be exploring ways to boost sales of snack foods at checkouts. Increasing checkout purchases in “power categories,” such as beverages and confectionary, by 1% could earn a store an extra US$15 350 a year, according to a recent study, Optimizing Checkstand Merchandising.

Source: Call to reduce junk food at checkouts

2. What Problems Are Caused By Junk Food?

- Fatigue

- May lead to depression in teenagers

- Impairs digestion

- Causes fluctuations in blood sugar levels

- Affects the brain function

- Increases the risk of heart disease

- Can cause kidney disease

- Can damage your liver

- Can cause type 2 diabetes

- Increases your risk of canceretc. (the list goes on and on)

(Source: 10 reasons junk food is bad for your health)

3. How Long Would It Take To Burn off Your Dinner?


4. How To Avoid Junk Food?

It is hard to break habits, but start with small steps.

Here are some examples:

A) Eat whole foods — that is, food that you could actually grow. 

A potato comes from the ground, an egg from a hen. But where did that Pop-tart come from?

“Unprocessed, whole foods will give you the most benefits,” Berman says. Processing takes out nutrients such as antioxidants and fiber.

What’s worse is that a lot of processed foods tend to sneak in things that aren’t necessary like extra sodium and sugar 

(Source: How to Eat Healthy: 25 Easy Ways to Eat Healthier Every Day).

B) Cook at home more. 

Sure, you could inhale supper straight out of a bucket, but for a healthy meal, you need to invest at least a few minutes in chopping, rinsing or grilling.

The result is worth the effort. “When you prepare dishes yourself, you can see which ingredients are going into it and make conscious choices about what you truly want to eat” 

(Source: How to Eat Healthy: 25 Easy Ways to Eat Healthier Every Day).

C) Eat with other people. 

We too often eat absent-mindedly. We don’t even notice that we’re distracted by the TV or computer or newspaper or the like.

Eating with other people is fun and food is meant to be communal.

The more you eat with other people, the more you’re going to engage with food and cook with and for other people.

Because let’s face it, when you’re cooking, everyone congregates in the kitchen 

(Source: 8 Simple Rules for Healthy Eating).

D) Give yourself a break. Eating a healthy diet of pure, whole foods is hard work.

Be proud of what you’ve accomplished and try to not be so hard on yourself.

Try to avoid treating any one food or ingredient like it’s evil.

Experience dictates that total abstinence rarely works especially in the long run. And try not to judge what others eat. People are different.

One person may have success with a style of eating that may wholly contradict the next person’s philosophy.

It’s okay to enjoy occasional treats too, without fear and anxiety. Eat it mindfully and enjoy it openly. 

(Source: 8 Simple Rules for Healthy Eating).

E) Choose fast-food restaurants that offer healthier choices. 

And no matter where you are, opt for food and beverages that are made up mostly of ingredients that provide nutrients along with calories.

Enjoy freshly squeezed orange juice or a whole-wheat bagel instead of soda or donuts.

Buy a bean burrito, pizza topped with vegetables, or a grilled chicken sandwich on a whole-grain bun instead of tortilla chips with processed cheese sauce; frozen pizza rolls; or fried chicken pieces and French fries.

Avoid sweetened beverages 

(Source: Junk-Food Facts).

F) Look for products low in sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, milled grains, and partially hydrogenated oils. 

Choose a 100% whole-wheat cracker made with canola oil, for example, or snack on a cheese and fruit plate instead of a bowl of cheese puffs 

(Source: Junk-Food Facts).

G) Limit TV viewing, for yourself and your kids. 

Certain TV shows seem to attract more junk food commercials more than others, so parents might want to discourage kids from watching these shows.

Or try TIVO (where you can fast-forward through commercials) or watch DVDs 

(Source: Junk-Food Facts).

More resources to help your quest for healthy eating:

- Simple Rules for Healthy Eating

- 8 Simple rules for Healthy Eating

Resources helpful to teach kids about healthy eating:


If you want to prevent children from eating junk food, food science experiments are a good way for them to be involved in learning why:

- 7 Food Science Experiments to promote healthy eating

- Food Science Fair Projects

5. Technology Recommendations

Technology can help you improve your health and eating habits. Here are my top six recommendations:

- EWG’s Food Scores, which offers a website as well as Apple/Android apps to make checking a healthy score of any food items convenient.

- The 10 Best Apps to Help You Eat Healthy and Lose Weight

- Can technology get you to eat healthier?

- Food for thought — how to use technology to eat healthy

- 6 Technology Trends That are Changing How We Eat

- Technology to Help Improve Nutrition and Promote Healthy Eating in New York City

6. Summary

When I was preparing this article, I didn’t find anything surprising at the “classification” part as this information is readily shared nowadays, and yet, we still don’t have a lot of actions or solutions for it.

It can be because our government systems are slow and cannot react quickly as seen with the Canadian government in banning trans fats with a phased-out period of two years (thank you to my collaborator, Genny Marcoux for providing this info and article editing).

It’s also possible not a lot of people cares or nobody is really in charge of promoting healthy food. Maybe it’s inside our brains and our main “reward system” that we got from our ancestors or lizards :)

I hope that with spreading online tools and businesses that focused on healthy eating that we all become better and healthier people.