The latest research was published online by the American Heart Association. The Singapore Chinese Health Study carried out by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health found that even once-weekly consumption of fast food increased the risk of dying from coronary heart disease (CHD) by 20 percent.
Add another two or three fast-food meals per week, and the risk jumps to 56 percent. Those eating four or five fast-food meals were practically committing suicide, as their risk of CHD soared to 80 percent. The increased risk of type 2 diabetes was more modest but still high.
The influence of a western diet is relatively recent in Singapore, dating from the late 80s and early 90s, so the region is a good test case for the impact of a diet of highly processed foods and their accompanying loads of salt, fat and sugar.
The fast-food industry will no doubt weigh in with its usual arguments: The people who reported their dietary intake likely had other risk factors, such as smoking and inactivity. Fast food is only one contributor. All things in moderation.
At the same time, those who oppose any kind of push back toward an industry that cares more about profit than the health of its customers will continue crying, “Nanny State!!!” whenever someone comes up with a strategy for opposing action. Mayor Bloomberg could attest to that.
However, as health systems around the world sag under the increasing weight of chronic diseases, the pro-fast-food and anti-nanny-state messages are ringing hollow. Our right to kill ourselves slowly does not extend to picking each otherís pockets, which is what we are doing with our health-undermining western diet.
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