Surprising Health Dangers of Fast Food

Surprising Health Dangers of Fast Food

Millions eat fast food everyday, and that means there are millions of opportunities to be exposed to a pathogen that could make you sick.

Published May 7, 2012

Though we may like to suspend belief, recent headlines have once again shed some light on serious risks that fast food can pose to your health.

Fast food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken has been ordered to pay $8 million to an Australian girl who suffered severe brain damage and was paralyzed after eating a salmonella-infested Twister wrap.

And you may have heard about a McDonald’s worker in South Carolina arrested for spitting in two customers’ cups of iced tea after they returned them because they weren’t sweet enough.

Some of the recurring problems at franchises such as McDonalds, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and Burger King were rodent droppings, insects, food borne illnesses, debris and grime on counters and in prep areas, and poor employee sanitation. Given that about 25% of Americans eat fast food everyday, that’s millions of opportunities to be exposed to something nasty, or worse, a pathogen that could make you sick.

Diseases From Fast Food

The high levels of calories, fat and sodium in most fast food can eventually lead to other health problems. For example, a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that eating significant amounts of fast food can contribute to atherosclerosis, another term for clogged arteries, which can increase your risk of conditions like heart attack and stroke. Fast food can also contribute to an increased risk of arthritis, sleep apnea, some kinds of cancer, diabetes and liver disease.

Nutritional Value Tradeoffs

As an example, one popular fast food hamburger contains about 540 calories and 29 g of fat. It contains 10 g of saturated fat and 1.5 g of trans fat. The sodium content is 1,040 g. However, the hamburger does contain about 25 g of protein, with 6 percent of your recommended intake for vitamin A, 2 percent for vitamin C and 25 percent each of calcium and iron. You pay a very high price in negative dietary elements, though, like calories, fat and sodium, for relatively small amounts of nutritional value.

Read more on fast food at


BET Health News - We go beyond the music and entertainment world to bring you important medical information and health-related tips of special relevance to Blacks in the U.S. and around the world. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter. 

(Photo: REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)

Written by Ellis Moore,


Latest in news