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Sample Expository Essay: Impact of Fast Food on a High School Student's Health
Fast food is the go-to choice for individuals who want delicious, cheap, and accessible meals. Every street corner, mall, and park tends to offer various fast food types for consumers. Most fast food companies also use aggressive marketing strategies that incorporate their products with quick deliveries and good taste. These factors make fast food a popular choice for high school students . However, since fast food provides little nutrients and benefits, aside from its taste, high school students can become susceptible to its negative effects. Fast food can cause nutrient imbalances, quick energy depletion, obesity, poor academic performance, and an increased risk of various diseases.
The lack of available nutrients in fast food products is one of the major issues related to their health effects. Since most fast foods are junk foods, they do not belong to any of the five food groups and are not necessary for meeting the nutrient requirements of humans. Fast food tends to lack fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and other nutrients from fruits, vegetables, and legumes (Jia et al., 2022). The lack of these nutrients can have detrimental effects on a student’s health, especially for adolescents who are in the developing stage. For instance, the lack of fiber quickens energy depletion and the feeling of hunger. This can affect a high school student’s productivity and cause them to adopt unhealthy eating habits.
It is also important to note that the imbalances from fast food include the increased consumption of certain nutrients. Studies show that children and adolescents consume more saturated fat, sodium, carbohydrates, and sugar from fast food (cited in Didarloo et al., 2022). The increased consumption of these nutrients can have various health effects on high school students and other fast food consumers. High saturated fat, carbohydrates, and sugar can increase the risk of chronic illnesses. Alternatively, high sugar consumption and calories from fast food can temporarily increase an individual’s energy, making them more active and alert. However, this temporary boost in energy also has its drawback.
Quick Energy Depletion
As mentioned, fast food consumption can temporarily increase energy. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013), Australian teenagers get 40% or more of their energy from junk foods and fast foods (cited in Jia et al., 2022). This indicates that fast food consumption is a significant part of their daily routine and a major energy source. However, these food types only provide temporary boosts and will quickly deplete an individual’s energy. The refined sugar from fast food can decrease blood sugar levels and cause tiredness (Jia et al., 2022). This is a concerning issue for high school students since it can affect their daily productivity. For instance, fast food may make them active in the day but sluggish in the afternoon. They may not have enough energy for homework or even to socialize with peers and families.
There is also a prominent relationship between fast food consumption and obesity. Fast food consumption often leads to weight gain and obesity, contributing to the current obesity epidemic (Jia et al., 2022; Mohammandbeigi et al., 2018). This relationship is due to fast foods’ high calories, sugar, and other ingredients to make the products tasty and addictive. As mentioned earlier, the lack of fiber in fast food can quicken the feeling of hunger, leading an individual to eat more. If an individual eats fast food for most of their meals, they enter a cycle where fast food satisfies their hunger but also quickly depletes it. Since fast food products contain high calories and sugar, the cycle leads to unhealthy weight gain and obesity.
However, fast food’s effect on weight does not end in unhealthy weight gain. Obesity is a disease that can cause complications to an individual. Obesity can lead to asthma, sleep apnea, cardiovascular diseases, and even cancer (Obesity and Cancer, 2022). While some of these diseases are rare in young individuals, such as high school students, they may lead to long-term effects. In the U.S alone, 33% of adults and 17% of children and adolescents are obese (Mohammadbeigi et al., 2018). These high percentages show that a large number of individuals, including high school students, suffer from obesity and can potentially experience complications due to the disease.
Academic performance is one of the most significant aspects of being a high school student. Impressive academic performance indicates good physical and mental development while poor performances may imply issues in certain aspects. According to Meydanlıoğlu (2016), students who have a high consumption of fast foods and insufficient consumption of essential nutrients have poorer academic performance than students who eat healthy food (cited in Kristo, 2020). This phenomenon can be due to various factors related to fast food, including high energy depletion and nutrient imbalances. The quick energy depletion may make a student unproductive while the nutrient imbalances can have various physical and mental development effects.
Increased Risk of Diseases
Lastly, high fast food consumption increases the risk of various diseases. As mentioned earlier, fast food consumption can lead to obesity, which leads to other diseases. However, this is not the only disease that individuals can get from fast food. They can develop diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, high cholesterol levels, stroke, and hypertension (Jia et al., 2022). While most of these diseases are rare in high school students, high fast food consumption can increase the risk which will further increase as they grow up. There are also dental effects of fast food consumption, such as dental caries and tooth decay. (Jia et al., 2022). These dental problems are common in children, however, leaving them untreated can cause serious health complications. For instance, an inflamed oral cavity from dental caries can cause abscess formation, sepsis, and airway obstruction (Rathee & Sapra, 2021). These complications are rare, especially when an individual has proper dental hygiene. However, a lack of self-control and high fast food consumption will improve the risk of various diseases.
Fast food consumption detrimentally affects a high school student’s health through various means. The lack of diverse nutrients in fast food leads to nutrient imbalances which can affect a young individual’s development. The sugary contents of fast food give a temporary boost to energy but also deplete the energy quickly, leading to the feeling of tiredness. High school students can also perform poorly in their academics because of developmental issues and a lack of energy for productiveness. Lastly, high school students become prone to obesity and other diseases as they utilize fast food products as primary parts of their diets. Fast food consumption is not innately bad, however, always choosing fast food over healthy options runs the risk of various health complications that can physically and mentally affect high school students.
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Didarloo, A., Khalili, S., Aghapour, A., Moghaddam-Tabrizi, F. & Mousavi, S. (2022). Determining Intention, Fast Food Consumption and Their Related Factors Among University Students by Using Behavior Change Theory. BMC Public Health, vol. 22(314). Available at https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-022-12696-x. Accessed: September 4, 2022.
Jia, S., Wardak, S., Raeside, R. & Partridge, S. (2022). The Impacts of Junk Food on Health. Frontiers for Young Minds. Available at doi: 10.3389/frym.2022.694523. Accessed: September 4, 2022.
Kristo, A., Gültekin., B., Öztağ, M. & Sikalidis. A. (2020). The Effect of Eating Habits’ Quality on Scholastic Performance in Turking Adolescents. Behavioral Sciences. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7017354/#B9-behavsci-10-00031 . Accessed: September 4, 2022.
Mohammadbeigi, A., Asgarian, A., Moshir, E., Heidari, H., Afrashteh, S., Khazaei, S. & Ansari H. (2018). Fast Food Consumption and Overweight/Obesity Prevalence in Students and Its Association with General and Abdominal Obesity. Journal of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6196377/. Accessed: September 4, 2022.
Obesity and Cancer (2022). National Cancer Institute. Available at https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/obesity-fact-sheet. Accessed: September 5, 2022.
Rathee, M. & Sapra, A. (2021). Dental Caries. StatPearls Publishing. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551699/. Accessed September 5, 2022.
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