We need food right from the time of conception. A major population of the world considers themselves to be a foodie. Truly, food is fuel to our body because we get energy from what we eat. The outcome of being a foodie is that we turn out to be exactly what we eat, and hence eating right and more over feeding our kids the right thing is very important. Kids are very fussy, picky and moody eaters, and we know that well. That is why whatever is healthy is not very appealing to children. As parents and guardians it is a task to feed and ensure the right nutrients reach our children. However with our extremely busy lifestyles and hectic, overloaded schedules, we often let go of the thought of preparing a healthy meal and let ourselves and children into the packs of quick food, also known as junk food.
What’s Junk Food?
Before we get into details of junk food let’s understand what is junk food? Junk food is nothing but pre-prepared and prepackaged food that is easily available and very pocket friendly. It is very easy to carry for a day out or a picnic, a sleepover or to have it at a party. This easily available and pocket friendly junk food is extremely low in the very important nutritional values that are required for a child’s health, and is extremely high in fats and preservatives. Examples of this could be packaged foods such as juices and other drinks too. Pre-packed foods and drinks usually contain a very low percentage of minerals, vitamins and fiber. Junk foods are high in saturated fats, sugar and salt, they also contain added color and artificial flavors.”
Common Examples of Junk Food
Now that we know what junk food is, let’s have a look at some common examples of junk food. Aerated or carbonated drinks also known as sodas. These are easy to find and very satisfying on a hot summer day, but these are loaded with sugar. A quick grab snacks, such as candies, crackers and biscuits, and the ever popular chips or wafers. Not forgetting the very enticing fast-foods these are considered extremely unhealthy food for kids, foods like French fries and burgers, these are often added into the category of our food choices, the effect of junk food are not great because they often contain lots of calories but not as many nutrients and hence it is categorized as unhealthy food for kids.
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Harmful Effect of Junk Food
Before we get into any further details, let us understand the harmful effect of junk food as well as the disadvantages of junk foods, especially the effect of junk food on students. There are two different effects of junk food, short term and long term. First, let’s talk about the short term effects of unhealthy food for kids. Short term effects of junk food can make children feel very uneasy, it can cause indigestion, tiredness and bloating. These effects of junk food on students directly affect their concentration, causing distraction in studies and other activities. Since this affects mostly outdoor activities making children lethargic they tend to get into the long term effect of junk food.
The long term disadvantages of junk foods are rather very concerning and alarming. Since these foods contain poor nutrients and are very high in sugar, they easily lead to tooth decay and sometimes permanently damage children’s dental structure. This will cause kids to have low confidence and affect their mental health as well. Another serious long term effect of junk food is disrupted or poor bowel habits, this can lead to chronic conditions like Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acidity and ulcers. Ultimately leading to obesity which in turn leads to many chronic and irreversible health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Since junk food is very convenient and easily available, we often tend to pack it as lunch and allow children to snack during mid-meals. However the effect of junk food on students can be direct and long lasting. As these foods tend to contain high calories, sugar and fat, it directly leaves a negative impact on the fitness of a child. This causes them to feel tired and affects concentration in class and their learning ability. Now that we have learnt about the short term and long term effects of junk food, as well as the direct effect of junk food on students let us now, look at the types of diseases caused by harmful effects of junk food.
Major diseases caused by the harmful effect of junk food are dental cavities, diabetes, kidney damage, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, liver disease and obesity. These diseases can be irreversible due to the long term intake of junk foods. Problems like these affect self-esteem and confidence, ultimately accompanying emotional and mental trauma. Other major disadvantages of junk foods and especially the effect of junk food on students are poor academics, depression and sleep disturbance.
The effects of junk food on students does not limit to only health and academics, but is majorly seen as a threat to addiction. One would wonder, how unhealthy food for kids causes an addiction. Well an old study showed that consuming sugar can grow its dependence. This means children who consume high amounts of junk food especially high in sugar, develop tolerance leading to increased consumption of similar foods. This causes them to want more of the junk food, ultimately avoiding healthy food and causing tantrums and mood swings if the demands for junk food are not met.
Often foods that are green are looked upon with suspicion by children, their odd shapes and discolor is atypical and that is what causes children not to eat healthy foods. Any food that does not look appetizing is not consumed by children, hence as parents and guardians it is we who have to make the change. By trying to tweak food, blend in multiple veggies, proteins and have fun shapes and natural colors that pop, this can make children curious about their food. Involving children in the preparation is fun and learning at the same time. It will help them to learn about important nutrients and the importance of healthy food, which will help to avoid and eliminate junk food from their daily diet.
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Junk food is not just a demand, it is now a war against healthy food and hence it is very important to make this change as early as possible in the lives of our children. Psychologically we eat with our eyes first. So getting creative with healthy food options to eliminate the effect of junk food is now a trend.