Junk food’s confusing.
The clue’s in the name right?! It’s junk!
You’d think anything synonymous with trash, rubbish, or garbage wouldn’t be particularly appetising. But we love it.
Indeed, it accounts for almost 30% of the average American’s caloric intake.
To put it another way, 30% of the American diet is junk!
Clearly, there are both advantages and disadvantages of junk food to know about. If there weren’t any positives, then nobody would eat it.
But we do, so there are.
Looking for insight into the pros and cons of junk food? I’ve laid out what seems to be the primary ones in the coming post.
Check them out!
5 Key Advantages of Junk Food
Let’s start with the good stuff. What is it that compels so many of us to eat junk food?
1. It’s Tasty
First off, it tastes good.
Pizzas, burgers, fried chicken, fries, hot dogs, Chinese…you name it, and it tastes bloody good.
It’s all sweet, salty, full of flavour and coated in delicious sauces. As the good old Colonel puts it, junk food’s finger lickin’ good.
Placed alongside a bland green salad and there’s no competition. Most people would go for the junk food every time. You only have to smell the bacon frying, the burgers grilling, and the pizzas cooking for the saliva to start flowing.
It tastes too good to resist.
2. It’s Quick and Easy
Junk food is also incredibly convenient.
People are busy.
They’ve got responsibilities and commitments that take up time. We’re in a hurry, and need to get things done.
Consider lunch breaks.
With 30 minutes away from the job to relax and reboot, nobody wants to spend time preparing a meal. The speed with which junk food comes out makes it appealing.
There’s no effort involved. You get the food in minutes, eat it, and then get back to socialising and enjoying your break.
3. It’s Available 24/7
Likewise, junk food’s always available.
Junk food restaurants are everywhere, around every corner, and are open at all times.
Many of them literally never shut.
That’s good news when you get a bad case of late-night munchies. Or if you’ve stayed late at the office and need a last minute meal to take home. Or if you’re on a tight schedule and can’t go far to find food.
People naturally seek convenient solutions. The path of least resistance is built into our systems. The fact that junk food is as tasty as it is convenient makes it hard to resist.
4. It’s Cheap
Don’t forget how inexpensive it is either.
This is a big deal.
We live in incredibly difficult financial times. Consumer debt hovers at around $14 trillion. People are operating under masses of financial pressure. Every cent counts.
Making ends meet is a very real issue for many.
And healthy food is more expensive. Buying organic produce and preparing well-rounded nutritious meals sounds ideal. But as long as it costs more money than junk food, which it usually does, there’s less (financial) incentive to eat a healthier diet.
It’s the perfect triad: tasty, convenient, and cheap. For many, that makes junk food the go-to for their meals.
5. It’s a Kids’ Favourite
And kids love it too.
The importance of that shouldn’t be understated!
It’s a big deal for busy parents with fussy children. Nobody wants to spend time, effort and money on meals their kids refuse to eat.
Sometimes you just want the easy route, and junk food is definitely that.
For one thing, you don’t have to cook or do the dishes. Secondly, the kids will eat it without complaining or causing a fuss.
Want to read a similar post? Here are the advantages and disadvantages of fast food.
5 Key Disadvantages of Junk Food
Onto the downsides. Here are the cons of junk food that more of us should probably keep in mind.
1. It’s Unhealthy
This is the biggie.
Junk food tends to be far worse for our health than more nutritional options.
A greasy burger covered in cheese and bacon might seem far more appetising than the loose-leaf salad on the menu. But it’s not as good for you.
Junk food has masses of fat, salt, and sugar- not to mention preservatives, additives, and a host of other questionable ingredients. Your physical health suffers when junk food is eaten in excess.
Eat it every once in awhile and you’ve got less to worry about (as long as the rest of your diet is well-balanced and nutritious). Eat it all the time, though, and you can do lasting damage.
Your heart suffers, your cholesterol suffers, your skin suffers, your energy-levels suffer, and so on. You’re more susceptible to serious health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. And more.
Junk food might not be entirely to blame for such challenges. Levels of exercise, underlying health conditions, and so on make a big difference too. It does, however, have a significant role to play.
2. It Contributes to Weight Gain
Obesity is rampant in the US.
Almost 45% of the country is obese. That’s not far off 1 in every 2 people who have it.
It’s scary, and junk food plays its part in that.
Junk food is intensely calorific. It’s also got all the sugar, bad fat and salt I mentioned above. Eat enough of the stuff and you’ll gain weight with greater ease than consuming healthier foodstuffs.
That’s bad news for kids who love junk food, but it ain’t exactly good for adults either.
Obesity is no joke, but being overweight in general isn’t great. Aside from the impact on self-esteem, it also has damaging effects on all aspects of health. Heck, the likelihood of dying shoots up enormously.
Almost 3 million adults die annually from being overweight or obese.
Going easy on the junk food is, arguably, a matter of life and death!
3. It Makes You Feel Sick (In Large Quantities)
Junk food isn’t as filling as more nutritional alternatives.
You have to eat more to feel full. Likewise, the sheer tastiness of it means people often gorge themselves on junk food anyway.
The trouble is that doing so, aside from being very unhealthy, makes you feel sick!
How often have you dug your way to the bottom of the ice-cream tub only to feel awful afterward? It’s hard to stop when something tastes so good! Alas, nothing good comes from it.
Junk food earns its name for a reason. Put rubbish into your body and it’s natural to feel ill as a result.
4. It Impacts Mental Health Too
Physical health is only one part of the problem.
Junk food impacts the mental side of things too.
It does so in a number of ways. First off, there’s a direct link to physical and mental health. If your body feels good, then so does the mind; and vice versa.
Being overweight or obese, or simply feeling sick after overeating, is a recipe for trouble. Your body doesn’t have what it needs; your mind and mood suffer.
Throw in the negative self-image that comes with it and you’re in for a rocky time.
Eat a junk food meal and the sugar, saturated fats, and carbs spike your blood sugar levels. You get a rush of energy that crashes soon after. Your mood drops in the process.
Depression, low mood, anxiety, irritability, and other negative states may occur with increasing frequency.
5. It’s Addictive
Finally, junk food is highly addictive.
All the fat, sugar, salt, and energy-dense ingredients in it are what our brain and body think they want. It’s built into our systems!
Our primal circuitry was built upon uncertainty of resources.
Back in the day, we didn’t know when the next meal would come. You’d have to hunt and gather your food; naturally, there would be times of abundance and times of scarcity.
High-energy, fat-dense foods became valuable. If you got your hands on some, then you’d gorge on them to stock up for rainier, colder, bleaker time with fewer resources.
We still operate under that system, even though we no longer face the same trials.
Most of us have access to sufficient food at all times. But we’ll still get happily knock-back a burger, fries, and thick-shake, because that’s what our brains say we need!
Junk food triggers the pleasure center of the brain. We get a kick when we consume it, which makes us think it’s good. We eat more and more and more and become hooked on the stuff.
It becomes hard to say no to. We begin associating hunger with eating it. Just the thought of junk food gets our mouths watering.
We get addicted.
But we suffer, physically and mentally, in the process.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Junk Food
Millions of people eat junk food every single day.
It’s the go-to meal choice for many.
And the advantages of junk food make it easy to understand why! It solves a host of ‘problems’ that many of us face.
However, as we’ve seen, there are both advantages and disadvantages of junk food worth knowing about. With the cons in mind, the pros might be harder to justify.
Hopefully, this post will help you make your mind up about whether junk food is the best option (literally) on the table.