The Pros and Cons of Fast Food: What Teens Should Know


December 15, 2023

Everybody loves fast food. It’s a delicious escape for teens caught up in the hustle of school, friends, extracurricular activities, and endless responsibilities. We all know that fries, cheeseburgers, and milkshakes aren’t the best healthy choices, but they still find their way into our lives.

But, you know what? Sometimes, that sneaky indulgence can be a good thing. Discover the tasty wins and the not-so-sweet consequences of eating fast food.

Eating Fast Food: The Good Side

While often criticized for their negative health effects, fast food brings many good things worth acknowledging.

Provides a Convenient Option

Many people lead busy lives, leaving almost no time to prepare food for themselves. Faced with time constraints and responsibilities, they turn to fast food. Living in a dormitory, I struggle with preparing meals every day, especially when burning the midnight oil. As much as I’d want to cook, I find the convenience of fast food so hard to resist — it’s tasty, cheap, and available 24/7.

When it’s crunch time, we’d rather order online and wait a few minutes for our food to arrive than go to the kitchen and spend almost an hour preparing a meal. The last thing we need on our plate is another task in our never-ending to-do list, so we’d rather have something prepared and served quickly.

More Affordable

As teens, we run on a limited budget. If you’re looking for cheap eats, chances are your first choice would be your favorite fast food. You could have a satisfying meal for just around $5 to $7.

Think about it — the average cost of a Big Mac in the United States is $5.58, which can keep you full and satisfied for hours.

Jeremy Bishop from Unsplash

Good for On-The-Go Individuals

When traveling or running on a tight schedule, you will often not have the opportunity to cook yourself a good meal. Therefore, you might resort to driving through a fast-food restaurant.

Doing so saves you from the hassle of simultaneously cooking and washing the dishes. Hence, ordering your favorite value meal at McDonald’s can be a great alternative to cooking while traveling to give you more time on excursions.

Enhances Our Instagram Feeds

Let’s be real — we’re crazy about taking pictures of our food before eating them. As the saying goes, “camera eats first.” Your thick burger oozing with cheese and a basket of fries are too beautiful not to share online.

As a big foodie, I can relate to this. Sometimes, when I’m about to have my snack, I’m struck by a color combination and just have to take a picture. If you also see value in life’s simple pleasures or enjoy photography, fast food is always a great subject to focus your camera on.

Healthy Options Are Available

Modern fast food is more than just burgers and fries. Many healthy fast food options nowadays make conscious eating accessible for many people. For instance, some salad selections at Wendy’s only have 400 calories, while “fresco” items at Taco Bell have less than 350.

Additionally, many fast food restaurants now offer healthier options, such as broiled fish and grilled chicken breast on the menu, rather than just deep-fried selections. Certain fast food spots even cater to vegan and vegetarian diets.

Availability of Nutritional Information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that nutritional details be included in standard menu items. This includes calories, saturated fat, and carbohydrates, among others. I recently started watching my calorie intake — knowing the nutrition of the food I’m about to order helps me keep track of what I put inside my body.

Eating Fast Food: The Bad Side

Fast food is not without its possible negative effects. Here’s what you need to remember before taking a fistful of fries.

High Blood Sugar Levels

Your favorite burger may cause spikes not only in your mood. Fast food breaks down quickly because of refined carbohydrates, leading to insulin surge and drop in blood sugar. This is why we often feel exhausted after stuffing ourselves with fries, burgers, and even more fries.

If the situation continues long enough, it can even lead to Type 2 diabetes in some people. High blood sugar levels can damage body tissues, so go easy on your usual fast food picks.

Alia from Unsplash

Might Trigger Skin Problems

I remember having a pizza and soda party the night before my brother’s wedding. It was all fun and games until I woke up the next day with a whopping pimple on my face. I went to Google and found out that eating fatty, oily, and sugary foods such as soft drinks and — you guessed it right — fast food can trigger acne formation.

To avoid getting a pesky pimple before your next day, opt for lower glycaemic index (GI) foods like oats, fruits, and grains. Aside from eating right, practice basic skincare habits and invest in treatments to help alleviate skin symptoms and prevent worsening conditions.

Binge Eating

Fast food is addictive. It’s highly palatable and cheap. Our brains are naturally included to pick the sweetest and tastiest food as they reap dopamine kicks when you eat these choices. This combination trains your brain to prefer delicious pizza over fresh foods with more important nutrients.

Can Drain Your Energy

Food is supposed to give you energy, but you might get the opposite effect from eating a bucket of fries. Consuming fried and fast foods too frequently can cause you to be overly full, leaving you with no drive to do anything for the next couple of hours.

Higher Risk of Obesity

We grew up being constantly told not to eat too much fast food, and we all know why. Indulging in fast food might offer quick satisfaction, yet it also serves up a hidden risk of weight gain on the side. Without moderation, this can lead to obesity, which is linked to other health issues.

What’s the Next Step?

Fast food is often linked to its negative effects on health, but it shouldn’t restrict you from enjoying it occasionally. When eating, make sure you do it in moderation, squeeze in some exercise daily, and make healthier choices when you eat fast food.

Mia Barnes
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Writer since Aug, 2023 · 6 published articles

Mia is a freelance writer who is studying professional writing and communications. Mia has a passion for health and wellness and is the Founder of the online publication, Body+Mind magazine. When not writing, Mia enjoys hiking, playing with her dog, and trying new recipes.