Why junk food is addictive: The UPF report card
November 25, 2023: The fast-food industry has exploded in Bharat in recent years. It is growing at a rate of 40% every year. It shows how the Big Food industry, or the factory food sector, is increasingly taking control of what we eat every day. So, we all wonder why junk food is addictive. The secret behind the growth of the highly processed junk food industry is finally out – a report has exposed that they ‘addictive substances’ to turn hungry people into lucrative markets.
If you crave for fizzy drinks with your everyday meal, it means you are addicted to it. You are trapped. Same goes with burgers and fries at popular fast-food chains. If your child is crazy about chips, sugary drinks, and pizzas, it means you are giving them addictive substances every day. It’s just like giving your children cigarettes and booze. What has this explosion of ultra-processed food (UPF) given Bharat? It’s important to address the core issue here: why junk food is addictive.
We have a massive and undeclared pandemic – a pandemic of diabetes, cholesterol, thyroid, high blood pressure, heart problems, and other lifelong diseases. It’s directly related to the issue of why junk food is addictive. Who gains from this ballooning health crisis caused by the Big Food industry? You guessed it right: it’s the Big Pharma industry! This report is not about what you eat; it’s about what is eating you.
Why junk food is addictive: The secret recipe
Let me tell you why junk food is addictive just as smoking and drinking are. Junk food gives us lifelong diseases. It cuts short our longevity. But still, we never think about kicking it out. Why? Because we have an addiction to it. Believe it or not, that’s precisely what a global study has found.
As we grapple with the question of why junk food is addictive, a research was recently published in BMJ (British Medical Journal). It is titled: ‘Social, clinical, and policy implications of ultra-processed food addiction’. It exposes that ultra-processed food contains addictive substances. That’s why we can’t give it up. And that’s why the growth of the ultra-processed big food industry. You are helping them in two ways: by eating their addictive stuff and falling sick. And by making the junk food chains richer and richer.
Let’s start by looking at the numbers. They are shocking and alarming. 14% of adults and 12% of children in the world have UPF addiction. These figures match the levels of two popular addiction habits, drinking and smoking. 14% of adults are addicted to alcohol and 18% are addicted to tobacco.
Researchers compiled the report based on 281 studies done in 36 countries. It has disturbing news about our kids. One in eight children are in the grip of UPF addiction. In a country like Bharat where streets, shops, and bazaars are full of processed junk food, this is perhaps the biggest health crisis out there. It is a wake-up call for all Indian parents, especially those in the cities. UPFs cover a large portion of our daily intake. Cold drinks, snacks in packets, ice-creams, sweets, biscuits, deep-fried stuff, cakes, pizzas, sausages, burgers, chicken nuggets, and more.
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