Figures from the Food Institute show that the average family spends around half of their food budget on eating out, a rise from the 38 per cent spent by families in 1977.
While eating fast food occasionally won’t make too much of difference to your health, making it into a habit can have disastrous effects.
Digestive and cardiovascular systems
The vast majority of products available from fast food restaurants are full of carbohydrates, while containing little or no fibre. As these foods are broken down, the carbs are released into your bloodstream as glucose, causing your blood sugar to rise.
In response, your pancreas releases insulin which can cause weight gain. This is because, over time, these insulin spikes alter the way your body reacts and this can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Sugar and fat
A lot of fast-food meals contain added sugars, which provided extra calories but very little nutrition.
It is recommended that the you only consumer around 100 calories of sugar each day, which amounts to around six teaspoons. The average soft drink from a fast food restaurant contains around eight teaspoons of sugar, which adds an extra 130 calories.
Trans fats are manufactured fats created during food processing, which are commonly found in pastry, dough and cookies.
There is no healthy amount of trans fats and eating them can increase your LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Diets that are high in sodium can make you feel bloated and salt is likely to make you feel hungrier and eat more calories. High-sodium diets are also dangerous for those with blood pressure issues, as they can cause higher blood pressure and more stress being placed on your heart.
It is recommended that an adult consumes no more than 2,300mg of sodium each day, and often just one fast-food meal will contain over half of this amount.
Fast food contains excess calories which contribute towards obesity, which in turn raises the likelihood of respiratory problems such as asthma.
The extra pounds of fat caused by eating fast food puts extra strain on your heart and lungs, with obese people often suffering from shortness of breath after little exertion, such as walking or climbing stairs.
This risk of respiratory problems is particularly evident in children, with one study finding that children who eat fast food three times a week being far more likely to develop asthma.
Central nervous system
Research has found that those who regularly eat fast food or processed good are 51 per cent more likely to develop depression than those who avoid this kind of food.
It has been proven that junk food and fast food can have an impact on fertility, due to the phthalates that they contain.
Phthalates are chemicals that alter the way in which hormones act in the body, with high exposure causing reproductive issues and even birth defects.
Integumentary system (skin, hair, nails)
Foods that are high in carbohydrates lead to sugar spikes, and these may cause or increase acne.
A study has found that young people who eat fast food regularly are more likely to develop skin irritations such as acne or eczema.
Skeletal system (bones)
The sugar found in fast food and increase acids in your mouth, which can break down tooth enamel and cause cavities to develop.
Obesity, which can be caused by the excess calories in fast food, can also lead to issues with bone density and muscle mass.
Effects on society
It is believed that as many as 66 per cent of adults, and 33 per cent of children, are considered to be overweight or obese.
It is no coincidence that rates of obesity have risen at a time when junk food and fast food are more prevalent than ever, with it seeming as though there is a direct link between the number of fast-food restaurants and the number of overweight adults.