In our article, we will dive in the world of Junk Food with you. You will learn stuff about the definition of Junk Food and its impact on our body and environment. In a self-made survey, we will refer to reality. We hope that, this article will learn you something new and that you can get inspired by it.
Junk Food is characterized by empty calories. These empty calories do not differ from normal calories by their energy content, but this term expresses that Junk Food contains few vitamins, minerals, essential trace elements (Spurenelemente), dietary fiber (Ballaststoffe) and amino acids. In addition, Junk Food contains a high content of sugar, salt, fat and often chemical additives (e.g. Hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid, sodium carbonate, aluminium sulphate).
What is it that we eat and drink?
To get started with the topic food and climate, we all (i.e. all participants from Switzerland, Belgium, India) had to document, what we ate and drank using a “food app” (How to use the food app, Sway presentation, sway.com). We had to upload some pictures of our food, too. So our project-team made a gallery with all Junk Food, which were eaten by the students:
Now we want to share some facts about Junk Food, which we found out while doing our research:
Impact of Junk Food on our body
It has been found out that very fatty foods (f.e. burgers) disturb the formation of new nerve cells in the brain.
Foods with high sugar and fat content disturb the insulin level of the brain and replace the important Omega-3 fatty acid, which are important for the formation and maintenance (Erhaltung) of cells. This results in a poorer memory, an increased risk of cancer and you age faster.
Of course, you probably think that döner kebab or burger also contains salad or vegetables, but this is not sufficient to cover the daily needs of our body for vitamins and minerals so that there is always a shortage of these substances. Furthermore, junk food is too rich in energy and often covers a large part of a person’s energy requirements, which vary from person to person.
You don’t usually pay attention to how much energy you consume or how much you find in food. However, this is wrong and should be changed urgently. While sportsmen pay attention very exactly to the nutrition, the normal citizen hardly makes that anymore. If the amount of energy required is exceeded day by day, you will gain weight. Of course, a little fat on the stomach is not bad, however, the weight gain can go so far that obesity of the body develops, which is connected with risks. The obesity (Fettleibigkeit) results from the sugar, which is taken by the Fastfood to itself and due to the large mass cannot be burned completely. It is therefore stored in the cells of the body and is converted into fat so that a layer of fat is formed under the skin and around our organs.
Impact of Junk Food on the environment
Junk food is not only harmful to our body, but also to the environment. The huge quantities of packaging often land in our oceans or on our streets, where animals can eat them. Global plastic production has increased by more than twenty times over the last 50 years. Every year 1,000,000 seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals (Meeressäuger) die from the consumption of our discarded plastics, according to an environmental organization.
The high meat consumption is also a big problem for the environment, with the exception of organic meat. To produce meat, huge amounts of animal feed are needed. Especially in developing countries forests are cut down to grow animal feed. Often areas where food for the hungry population should have been grown, are also used for animal feed production. Only organic meat is produced without these feeds and in harmony with our nature. Every square meter less of tropical forest increases the greenhouse effect.
In addition, the finished products often have a long transport route behind them, which is also very harmful to the environment, because of CO2 emissions.
Why is it gaining popularity these days?
Many people want their food to be fast, uncomplicated and, if possible, without getting their fingers dirty. But why is it gaining popularity?
First of all, it is very practical. For example: If you are hungry you just have to go to a Junk Food restaurant like McDonald’s, and you get your food very fast. Other examples, which show how easy it is to consume Junk Food are convenience meals. When you buy a ready-made Pizza you just have to put it in the backing oven and ten minutes later it is ready to eat. This is a reason, which is quite technical.
But there is another reason for the popularity of Junk Food which exists because of the impact of Junk Food on our body. When you bite into ready-made food such as pizza, burgers or pastries, a chain reaction sets in in the body. The main ingredients of Junk Food cause a big effect on our body. Salt activates the reward center in the brain, sugar causes the blood sugar level to rise and fall again. That works up an appetite. Fat provides a good satiable feeling in the mouth. Our brain is happy and the body is electrified. This is also the feeling our brain connects with Junk Food. It is a feeling, which we would like to experience again. So we keep on eating Junk Food. Fairly long term it is quite unhealthy for our bodies. In handling with Junk Food, we should regard to not get addicted, because Junk Food is a dependence causing substance. If we eat Junk Food rarely and inappropriate amount there is no problem with it, and you can enjoy every bite. Because even though it is unhealthy Junk Food is just so yummy.
To get to know how Junk Food is included in our daily life, we made a survey. 126 People around the world answered our questions within a period of one month. Most of the interviewed people are in the age of 16 to 25 years. We made some charts to illustrate the results:
48% of the participants eat junk food once or twice a week, which is not very surprising these days. 35% eat junk food once or twice a month, followed by 10% who eat fast food every day and a small percentage of 4% who almost never eat junk food. One person said that they have never eaten junk food, which seems too incredible to be true.
The most popular junk / fast food chains are McDonalds, Burger King and KFC. Followed by Chickeria with 16%, which however comes from Switzerland and are only represented there. This is probably due to the fact that more swiss people filled out the survey. The least represented are Subway, Quick, Dominos and Pizza Hut.
The answers to this question were quite balanced, because 54% thought that we should continue to consume junk food, while 46% are in favour of stopping eating junk food.
Half of all participants eat junk food because it is yummy. 14% eat junk food because it makes them happy. 10% eat junk food because it’s not expensive and another 10% eat it because it’s easy accessible or because they don’t have enough time to prepare their own food. Only 4% eat junk food because of group-pressure.
If you’re interested in the full analysis of our survey, you find the excel-file here: Analysis Survey Junk Food (.xlsx / 2020)
It was one of our first time creating a survey. We thought that we can just write down some questions and share our survey. But Miss Suter pointed out that a survey has to be uncommitted, interesting and understandable. So we had to revise the survey many times. But it was definitely worth it because the end result was much better than our very first draft.
Another big part of our project was doing some research. It was very interesting to learn more about Junk Food. It is much more than just unhealthy food. Sometimes it was quite difficult to find a trustful information source. But after some research time, we found some good sources.
Finally, we could work with WordPress. It made a lot of fun to create our article with web publishing. We could use our creativity and create a nice-looking web article. We would definitely recommend others to just try it out.
In conclusion, doing our project was a very interesting experience. We learned much new stuff and worked independently.
Lisa Hediger, M17a, Wirtschaftschule KV Wetzikon
Noémie Käser, M17a, Wirtschaftschule KV Wetzikon
Sources / Files
We have written all the texts by ourselves, using additional information from the internet. Below you can find the used sources. As we created our own survey, we also made an analysis. The complete data is visible in the attached excel file. We didn’t take the photos ourselves, however, we made the copyright test.
Survey – “Junk Food App” (kobotoolbox.org, THE ! association (the-horse.education), 2019)
Analysis Survey Junk Food (.xlsx, L. Hediger & N. Käser, 2020)
Junk Food Reality check (archive.org/sfshurgentcare.com, 2019)
What does Junk Food to Your Body (american.edu)
Impact on environment (ecofriend.com)
Environmental impact of unhealthy foods (multibriefs.com, Bambi Majumdar, 2019)
Why are junk food and fast food so popular? (thehindu.com, Namita Jain, 2010)
Definition Junk Food
All pictures are from unsplash, licence (unsplash.com)
Further information concerning Junk Food
What is Junk Food? Why is it bad for you? (ndtv.com, Sarika Rana, 2017)
93 Junk Food facts (factretriever.com, Karin Lehnardt, 2019)
Consequences of eating Junk Food (archive.org/livestrong.com, Nicole Langton, 2017)
How to eat healthy (self.com, Carolyn L. Todd, 2021)
Wie Fertiggerichte unserem Körper schaden (srf.ch, 2021)
Fertiggerichte – Fluch oder Segen? (br.de, 2021)
On-topic posts on dontwastemy.energy
The Story of Chips
How much energy do I consume per day and how can I calculate it?
Food and Climate – a cross-cultural collaboration project