Have you ever wondered why junk food tastes so unbelievably good? Why we are constantly tempted to consume it, and why junk food chains have become so massive worldwide? Well, we’re here to tell you that there is actually a whole reason behind its popularity amongst society, and why it has been greatly consumed since the first junk food chain opened in 1921.
Primarily speaking, a significant amount of money, effort, science and research is involved in junk food production. Scientists have proven that, usually, foods high in salt, sugar and fat trigger pleasure centres in our brains which make our taste buds excited, inciting us to consume more. Furthermore, junk food, as we all know, is relatively high in energy, something our brain constantly seeks in order to work at its full capacity. We have hence evolved to love high-energy foods. Food producers have millions of other tactics when it comes to making their products exceedingly delicious. For example, typical foods such as cookies, potato chips and Rice Krispies have been manufactured to have the ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ trick. This astute deception makes us think that calories in junk food magically vanish as food melts in our mouths. It confuses our brains, making us believe we aren’t actually eating much, blinding us from our fullness cues.
Also, believe it or not, how we feel and what we crave are two heavily correlated factors in our brain. When we feel stressed, our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol. This hormone increases our sugar content in the blood and can also noticeably increase our hunger levels. Therefore, when stressed, we instinctively reach for foods that give usa rapid boost of energy and pleasure. Another interesting fact that most can relate to, is that eating can be a way to temporarily silence unwanted emotions like anger, fear, anxiety, loneliness, resentment and shame. When numbing ourselves with food, we avoid difficult emotions we don’t wish to feel. Likewise, do you ever eat simply to give yourself something to do? To relieve boredom or a void in your life? Well you are most certainly not alone. When we feel unfulfilled and empty, it is common to use food as an alternative occupation for our mouth and time.
Furthermore, junk food’s popularity can be linked to its visual attraction, which engages people and increases their desire to consume it. Have you ever realised how incredibly vivid junk food looks? Manufacturers use vibrant and highly saturated colours when producing junk food to make it look further appealing to consumers, especially children. Has a bright red apple ever looked more appealing to you than a pale apple? This is because we associate bright-coloured foods with food that can fulfil our energy and hunger levels. Additionally, fast food chains use colour psychology to subtly influence customers into consuming their food. These companies tend to use a lot of yellow, which can be associated with happiness, contentment, warmth and comfort, alongside red, which can be linked to love, health, and desire.
In conclusion,, as largely comforting, delicious, mood lifting andcheap junk food may seem to be, it can lead to severe life-risking medical complications if consumed regularly. Some of these are: an increased risk of obesity and chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and certain cancers. Junk food can also lead to less grave consequences like migraines, acne outbreaks, an increased risk of depression, dental cavities and constant bloating. As harmless and impossible to resist fast food may seem, it is crucial to keep its consumption levels low. Nevertheless, remember that eating junk food once in a while to fulfil your mind and soul, can be as beneficial as eating a plain lettuce and tomato salad.