Obesity and junk food consumption are often connected for several reasons. Junk foods can be cheaper than healthy foods, making them more affordable for low-income people and generally more appealing to all. Fast foods are easy to acquire, especially since fast food restaurants are conveniently located near many peoples' homes and businesses. Junk foods are high in calories and made up mostly of fat and sugars, and they often lack the vitamins and nutrients necessary for good health. Not only are junk foods usually extremely high in caloric content, but they're often served in huge portion sizes that encourage excessive calorie consumption.
Some experts suspect that the link between obesity and junk food may be largely due to the lower price of fast food and junk food products. The low price of junk food makes it more affordable than healthy foods, meaning that low-income people are often considered at increased risk for obesity. The cost of healthier foods often climbs sharply over time, while the cost of junk food can remain relatively stable.
Fast foods are among some of the easiest foods to acquire, and studies suggest that those who live within about 200 yards (182.8 m) of a fast food restaurant may be two to five percent more likely to suffer from obesity. Not only are fast foods easy to acquire, but the proliferation of drive-through restaurant services make fast food meals an apparently convenient choice for many. The presence of child play areas in many fast food restaurants can make these high-calorie foods seem more appealing to children, who may pressure their parents for junk foods and resist eating healthy foods.
Experts believe that eating fast food more than once a week can increase a person's risk of obesity by up to 50 percent. Junk food can increase the risk of both adult and childhood obesity. This is especially true for children since they are often more susceptible to the marketing ploys fast food companies use to sell their products.
Fast foods often have very little nutritional value because they consist mostly of sugars and fats. Home-prepared meals and meals from traditional restaurants usually contain less fat and less sugar, as well as higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Many nutritional experts feel that eating foods high in vitamins, minerals and fiber helps to curb the appetite and discourage overeating.
Fast foods, on the other hand, are often served in large portion sizes, which can strengthen the link between obesity and junk food. These portions can be much larger than necessary, and often contain misleading amounts of calories. Experts believe that most people feel inclined to eat all of what's put in front of them, even if they feel satisfied before the meal is finished. Fast food restaurants sometimes fail to make the calorie content of their foods obvious to customers. Many regular consumers of fast food remain unaware of their own excessive calorie consumption, which can make it difficult to break the link between obesity and junk food.