Junk food

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Junk food is an informal term applied to some foods that are perceived to have little or no nutritional value (i.e. containing "empty calories"), or to products with nutritional value but which also have ingredients considered unhealthy when regularly eaten, or to those considered unhealthy to consume at all. The term was coined by Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, in 1972.[1]

Junk foods are typically ready-to-eat convenience foods containing high levels of saturated fats, salt, or sugar, and little or no fruit, vegetables, or dietary fiber; junk foods thus have little or no health benefits. Common junk foods include salted snack foods (chips, crisps), candy, gum, most sweet desserts, fried fast food and carbonated beverages (sodas)[2] as well as alcoholic beverages[3][4].

Contents

Marketing

During 2006, in the United Kingdom, following a high profile media campaign by the chef Jamie Oliver and a threat of court action from the National Heart Forum,[5] the UK advertising regulator and competition authority, launched a consultation on advertising of foods to children.[6] The Food Standards Agency was one of many respondents.[7] As a result, a ban on advertising during children's television programmes and programmes aimed at school aged children (5-16) was announced.[8] The ban also includes marketing using celebrities, cartoon characters and health or nutrition claims.

Health effects

A study by Paul Johnson and Paul Kenny at The Scripps Research Institute suggested that junk food alters brain activity in a manner similar to addictive drugs like cocaine or heroin.[9] After many weeks on a junk food diet, the pleasure centers of rat brains became desensitized, requiring more food for pleasure. After the junk food was taken away and replaced with a healthy diet, the rats starved for two weeks instead of eating nutritious fare.[10] A 2007 British Journal of Nutrition study found that mothers who eat junk food during pregnancy increased the likelihood of unhealthy eating habits in their children.[11]

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