An obsession with junk food proves costly to girls

Fast food industry is the second largest in Pakistan, with approximately 169 million consumers.

2017-08-04T18:30:44+05:00 Ahmed Umer Sohaib

The modern age has not only changed the behavior and attitude of contemporary generation of Pakistan but also redesigned the subjects of beauty and health, completely. The generation that opened its eyes at the dawn of 21st century, is more enlightened yet vulnerable to the fluctuating surroundings. One such disturbing trend is the erratic growth process in youngsters, particularly in females. The syndrome of anorexia is no more trending among teenagers albeit it has substituted with relatively short statures.

The gravity of this matter has grounded due to heedlessness of parents and young girls themselves. It is inane to adopt health as a vogue while fashion is taken as necessity in mundane matters. Anomalous it might be, but growth stunting has grasped the roots in privileged backgrounds though it has long been a dilemma in penurious communities.

Being a research student, I exercise the choice of digging into the biology of matters. Everything we do, or intent to do, is linked with the atoms and molecules which control certain distinct activity in our body. I talked to the nutritionists and sought few research papers on it. Junk food has become an undivided part of our lives. Consequently, exorbitant junk food intake devastates the physical height of young girls more than boys.

Due to physiological differences, girls are more prone to health irregularities. The reasons rest in biology, not in psychology. The junk food alters hormonal balance in girls. This mutation abates the release of somatotrophin hormone - commonly known as growth hormone - which is essential to develop all the structures of human body. This mechanism hinders the growing height of girls. Concurrently, the essential nutrients required for the female body to attain development are not fulfilled by junk food. Girls are more susceptible at puberty and where actually the health matters. The menstrual cycle, low calcium intake and iron loss also deplete the essential elements which help in structure development. The hefty brunt face by young girls escalates exponentially in the case of regular take of junk food since childhood.

How and why junk food has cashed a copious attraction of youngsters in Pakistan? The answers are riveting and rational. The survey based two reasons are significant. First, it has seen that youngsters spend plethora of money on junk food than elders. Nuclear and Joint both family systems like fast food due to its delectable taste. Cost effectiveness and busy schedules are yet other factors which depict the trend of having superfluous fast food intake. A study published by the students of University of Lahore shows that age and education have negative co-relation with the likeness, while increase in income leads to more inclination towards having fast food. Second, the fluctuating consumer proclivities, shifting lifestyles and presence of multinational chains in close proximities have further facilitated and triggered fast food consumption in Pakistani community.

The fast food industry in Pakistan is undergoing an augmented boom. Despite vicious competition, this industry has managed to reproduce profitability and is well-received by the local masses as well. Recent statistics have revealed that fast food industry is the second largest in Pakistan, with approximately 169 million consumers. With this huge integer, this sector also accounts for 16% of the total employment in manufacturing sector. It is feasible to surmise that junk food has controlled a good portion of our daily cuisines.

Let’s take a walk back to the issue of junk food versus female health . The greater proportion of females visit on fast food chains than their male counterparts gives impetus to perishing health paradigms. I once asked the male receptionist at McDonalds MM Alam Road Lahore, about the frequency of customers and he informed me that we entertain over 100 customers daily (both take away and dine in) and majority of them are either females or their entire family. This trend is congruent to Nando’s. Most fast food menu items – including kids’ meal items – contain more calories, saturated fat, sugar, and sodium than recommended. The junk food Industry spends a giant integer on advertising to embolden frequent visits to fast food restaurants, targeting children as young as two years old. It harms children’s health – and is more inflicting to girls’ physical height.

The solutions are simple yet practical. Put a limit on the visits of children at junk food outlets. Do not make them dependent on junk food round the clock. The growing age needs micro and macro nutrients which are not present in the varieties of junk food. The essential nutrients give design and anchorage to the developing body. I’ve noticed girls indigenous to those cities of KPK where fast food chains haven’t reached yet, their average heights are far better than those living in cities teeming with fast food chains. Let not impede our children to reach their maximum heights. Let not see our girls live their lives with crumbling health issues.

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