Fast Track to Fat

Who knew? A new study shows that eating fast food will make you fat

In January, the
University of Minnesota together with Children´s Hospital in Boston reported that noshing fast food just twice a week can make you fat. But although at first glance the study´s results seem obvious, they illustrate something vital: Food bought at fast-food joints is far more unhealthy than food bought at a typical restaurant. These are important findings in a society that is wringing its hands over an â€obesity epidemic.â€

In a 15-year study of nearly 3,000 Americans, frequenters of fast-food restaurants gained about 10 pounds more than those who indulged an average of once a week or less. They also had twice the increase
in insulin resistance, a prominent factor in type-2 diabetes, known colloquially as â€diabesity.â€

Whereas previous studies looked at overall consumption of various types
of food-â€burgers†or â€fried potatoes,†regardless of where consumers bought them-the Minnesota-Boston study was the first in which participants specifically recorded their number of visits to fast-food restaurants, says Mark Pereira, the study´s lead author. The results highlight the disparity of
a fast-food burger and its counterpart from an average sit-down restaurant. The fast-food burger contains up to
70 grams of fat compared with about
15 grams for a regular burger.

The results, which Pereira described as â€nothing too surprising,†confirm what Jeannette Jordan, a diabetes educator with the American Dietetic Association, has been arguing for years. But although Jordan believes we can preserve our backsides by opting for relatively healthy options at fast-food joints, Pereira warns that healthier foods will sell only if companies put the effort into making healthy options taste good. In fact, he predicts that fast-food purchases will continue in just the opposite direction. â€People don´t want healthy food when they go to these places,†he says.