10 Harmful Effects Of Junk Food In Children

Harmful effects of junk food in schools and childhood obesity

Grabbing a quick snack several times a day is the new trend amongst children. Be it the tantalizing taste or attractiveness of the packaging, junk food appeals to kids and children the most. Needless to say, parents need to not only limit the consumption of junk food but also advise children on its harmful effects. We are here to help you with that and more.

Considering the recent state of public health situations, it has become important to keep our children healthy and away from communal diseases. Educating kids about a healthy diet and how junk food can lead to certain adverse health effects is critical. Here are 10 harmful effects of junk food that everyone needs to be aware of. 

Reduced learning and memory issues

Kids are in a growing phase. They are learning tons of things each day and their mind is actively developing. Due to the consumption of excess junk food, our body bears the extra deposition of artificial sugar and fats. This may suppress brain function. Children can experience a lack of learning abilities. There is a research study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that affirms this fact. 

The study revealed how excessive junk food can decrease the cognitive function of our brains. The hippocampus is the brain’s most affected region responsible for memory and learning. When we eat foods loaded with artificial sugar, there is a sudden inflammation in the hippocampus region of our brain. This causes hindrance in memory functioning and other cognitive abilities. 

Harmful effects of junk food: Obesity

 harmful effects of junk food obesity

Junk foods are high in calories, fats, and sugars. And since these are coming from artificial substances, you cannot rely on the nutritional value. These lead to weight gain in many children. When consumed for a long period, junk can cause obesity which is a serious problem. Obesity is the defining factor for many other diseases such as heart ailments, joint pain, and diabetes.  

Effects on the respiratory system

There is hardly any fast food that is not high in calories. These lead to weight gain which leads to childhood obesity. This further gives rise to various respiratory issues including shortness of breath and even asthma in certain cases. The weight put on by extra calories also put pressure on our heart and lungs. Many children who regularly eat junk food find themselves out of breath while walking, climbing, or exercising. We often relate this to the lack of strength but junk food is the underlying cause in many cases.

Harmful effects of junk food: Leads to other disorders

Junk food harms the overall health of the child. Intake of fast food often increases the odds of serious issues such as atopic disorders. Children eating junk food more than 3 times a day are at higher risk of developing diseases such as asthma, eczema, and rhinitis. There are other health issues also associated with junk food. These include

  • Constipation-the lack of fiber can cause the stool to become hard, leading to stomach aches and constipation.
  • Depression– conditions like obesity leads to low self-esteem and can cause depression in the y young ones
  • Reduced energy-fast food reduces a child’s participation in an extracurricular activity, leading to reduced physical movement and a lack of energy
  • Sleep disturbances– pop and cola drinks contain caffeine that disturbs the regular sleep patterns of the child
  • Hyperactivity– is caused by the lack of essential fatty acids in junk food

Adverse effects on the skin

A child’s skin is sensitive. It is growing and adapting to the environment we live in. Hence, any impurity on the inside can give rise to acne and pimple. Since junk food is overflowing with oil-based products, deep-fried eatables, high quantities of carbs, and artificial sweeteners, they have harmful effects on a child’s skin undesirably. The high quantity of carbs has been related to the main cause of acne vulgaris in the human body (Study).

Research further indicates that children who have fast food more than three times a day a week can develop eczema. It is characterized by irritated patches ann inflammation on our skin. When kids eat junk food, they are deprived of fiber and water-rich fruits that help nourish their skin. This leads to harmful effects on our skin. 

Affects the central nervous system

Children who regularly consume pastries and other processed food are at a 51% higher risk of developing depression. The artificial content of fast food often blocks the nerve signals that help our brains function properly. This can affect the entire nervous system and leads to various problems such as anxiety and depression. Also, eating junk food such as chocolate makes a child addicted to the eatable which comes with several bad effects in the long run. 

Junk food can impact the reproductive system of a child

Junk food is full of harmful chemicals and substances we don’t even know about. One of these is Phthalates. These are the chemicals that can cause various reproductive problems, including congenital disabilities. Due to the harmful effects of Phthalates, fast food becomes fatal for girls as it can impact their reproductive system. 

Effects on Skeletal system 

Junk food in schools and homes has a high content of carbohydrates. These increase the number of acids in our mouths. Various types of candies, sugar drinks and chocolates can even remove enamel from our teeth. When this happens, bacteria can easily attack our gums and teeth. The formation of cavities is also common after the removal of enamel. 

Consumption of carbs on a regular basis causes obesity which affects our body’s muscle mass and density of the bones. Childhood obesity makes the body more prone to breaking bones.   

Harmful effects of junk food: Reduces appetite

 harmful effects of junk food

Processed food often makes us feel full, even in small quantities. This happens because we are consuming artificial calories and carbohydrates. Since it fills a child’s stomach for long hours, there is an evident loss in appetite. The higher amount of carbs in junk food negatively affects our hunger. This may lead to nutritional deficiencies. 

Harmful effects of junk food: Affects the digestive system

Overeating is a common scenario with junk food. Children often end up eating more than they normally value. This creates issues with the fluctuating level of blood sugar in our bodies. Overeating also creates a problem for our brain as it demands more food than what is actually needed. As a result, some digestive issues occur in the body. There have been instances of acid-gas reflux, constipation, diarrhea, and even overproduction of hydrochloric acid in our liver. 

How to prevent junk food addiction in kids

While eating junk food occasionally isn’t much of an issue, regular doses of processed food can be dangerous. Parents must make a strict schedule to help their children avoid such food items. Here are a few points to follow:

  • Make the plate for a child colorful by adding fruits and vegetables of different types. The more variation in the food, the more likely your child will be able to eat it. Also, various fruits and vegetables impart all-inclusive benefits. You can make salads and preparations using options such as cucumber, tomatoes, broccoli, sweet potatoes, onion, watermelon, etc. 
  • Eat whole grains. Children usually like grains when given in optimum quantity. Make a habit of giving it to the little one at breakfast. You can add various types of whole grains to make things interesting. These are high in nutritional content and low in carbohydrates. 
  • Use fat-free or low-fat milk- if we take precautions and look for better options, there are healthier choices in everything we consume. Milk is a fine example of this. As a parent, you should switch to fat-free or low-fat milk with the same amount of nutrients but fewer calories and saturated fats. 
  • Introduce lean protein food- these foods might be an excellent alternative to junk food as they come with equally delicious tastes. You can opt for meat with lower fat content and leaner cuts such as turkey breast or chicken breast.
  • Always analyze the nutritional value when buying a product, and always check its label. You need to analyze the amount of sodium in the product’s ingredient list. Always choose products that are low in sodium and contain no or less salt or preservative. 
  • Make your child learn to drink water regularly. Water can help minimize the toxic effects of junk food on the body. Switching to plain drinking water instead of soda drinks or caffeinated syrups can help keep the effects of junk foods to a minimum. 

Conclusion

Junk food might taste and look attractive to a child. But his brain is not developed enough to understand the false advertising of companies, not to mention the harmful effects we just mentioned. The parents must prevent their children from getting addicted to fast food. We hope that the information we curated will help you out in the process.

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