By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
What do fast food restaurants and convenience stores have in common? Short and simple, the food they sell – high in refined carbohydrates and sugar − increases the potential for weight gain and diabetes, researchers say.
Through a 2015 investigation, British researchers found that the more fast food outlets in the neighborhood, the greater the risk of diabetes and obesity among the nearby residents. The findings, published in the journal Public Health Nutrition, were based on three public diabetes screening studies in the general population as well as in “socially deprived areas.”
There were a higher number of fast food outlets in non-White ethnic areas and poorer neighborhoods.
Through a U.S. study in the same journal, researchers reported that customers who frequent urban corner convenience stores spend on average $3 per visit. Their most common purchases are sodas, chips, prepared food, pastries, and candy. Regular soda was the most popular beverage purchase.
Corner store purchases averaged 66 grams of sugar – an amount equal to about 16 teaspoons of sugar. The average American consumes about 22 teaspoons a day, three times what’s recommended.The study was based on nearly 10,000 surveys at 192 stores in a low-income area in Philadelphia.
My Viewpoint: What these two interesting studies have in common is that both fast food restaurants and corner convenience stores serve up food items that are very likely contributing to the growing obesity and diabetes epidemics. They feature nutrient-poor refined carbohydrates (white flour buns, crackers, cakes, cookies, candy, sodas, and all the added sugar and sweeteners they contain). Such foods generate high blood sugar, an insulin response, the buildup of abdominal fat and weight gain, and inflammation.
What This Means to You: We live in a junk food society. Food choices make a big difference in how healthy and heavy we are, and even how our brains function. It is unfortunate that the worst foods are widely advertised and thus in high demand. No wonder there is rampant chronic unwellness! Adult-onset diabetes is now increasing at an alarming rate and, most startling of all, affecting significant numbers of children. Diabetes is a gateway to cardiovascular, kidney, and nerve diseases.
Recommendation: Over the years, eating right has been at the top of the list of remedies I recommended to patients. This website is full of information on how to eat healthier. Here’s a starting point to educate yourself. For those of you who frequent fast food restaurants, you have plenty of healthier options if you choose smart. That’s why I wrote my book, The Fast Food Diet. Check it out and expand your fast food universe.
- Bodicoat DH, et al. Is the number of fast-food outlets in the neighbourhood related to screen-detected type 2 diabetes mellitus and associated risk factors? Public Health Nutrition. 2015;18(9): 1698-1705.
- Lent MR, et al. Corner store purchases made by adults, adolescents and children: items, nutritional characteristics and amount spent. Public Health Nutrition. 2015;18(9): 1706-1712.
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