College student Mehedi Hasan (pseudonym) was scrolling the newsfeed on Facebook at 10:00pm. Suddenly, he saw the latest video of some famous food vloggers of Bangladesh. They took the challenge to finish a burger weighed 3 kg. With proper calculation, it was found that with the same price, it is possible to buy regular size burgers of same quantity with better quality. Despite that, Mehedi had a look throughout the whole news feed and found many more people taking up this burger challenge. It becomes clear here how tempting the giant burger ad was! He also wanted to take a large bite from a burger full of cheese and mayonnaise. He was unable to sleep with this craving, so he ordered a burger on the food delivery app at 10:30pm.
The reaction of Mehedi Hasan can be noticed in most of today's young generation. Junk foods have gradually become the most readily available recreation within the reach. Whether it's hanging out or spending ‘me-time’ alone, or get-together with the family, junk food is taking its place. Already, watching food vlogging in leisure time and eating in those places have become the most valued hobbies for many. Many people try hard to avoid junk foods with a concern of obesity, but there is no way to do that where the food delivery apps and social media are making it very easy to spread the tempting ads.
On July 19 in 2020, The Guardian published an article entitled "Junk food is the new tobacco": experts call for restrictions to tackle obesity. It also mentions that scientists and health campaigners want bans on outlets near schools and an advertising watershed. Now the question may arise how the tendency to eat junk food among youngsters has increased so much.
Dr Tasnim Zara, a clinical supervisor (undergraduate) at the University of Cambridge and a doctor at the National Health Service England, mentioned in a recent health awareness vlog that the craving of eating junk food may occur due to stress. When you are under stress at a regular basis for a long time, your body secretes a type of hormone called cortisol. You may feel an intense desire to eat extra sugary or fatty foods when the level of cortisol increases. Not only this, cortisol also helps in the accumulation of fat in the abdomen which is called central adiposity. It also increases the feeling of hunger. When urbanisation is making childhood more materialistic and taking the children and adolescents towards more mental stress at a very young age, that moment they can easily find inner satisfaction in the midst of junk food within their reach resulting in heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other ailments including obesity.
A statistic of World Health Organization says over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016. The prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents aged 5-19 has risen dramatically from just 4.0 per cent in 1975 to just over 18 per cent in 2016. If the influence behind such a change in these 41 years is searched, then the marketing strategy of ready-food-centric business and cultural globalisation can be marked as a big factor. Because of the growth of the intensively marketed fast-food culture, children are facing severe illnesses and shorter lifespans and experts say, health services around the world would struggle to cope. They predicted that the UN target to stop the rise of childhood obesity by 2025 would be missed and by the end of 2021 it can be found that we have reached very closer to this failure.
Nowadays, it has been possible to convey every smoker that tobacco causes cancer. Every time they go for buying a pack of cigarettes, the warning of the packet comes to their notice. Is that much awareness being created in the case of junk foods? Does any fast food ad or food vlogger mention all these processed, sugary and fatty foods are causing many other problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and excessive weight? The luxury of food is the primitive instinct of human being. But in order to cope up with evolution of civilization, if one has to become dependent and addicted to imbalanced nutritious, processed and adulterated foods, then the very existence of human civilization will be in crisis in the near future. It’s high time to be aware of food and nutrition and build a healthy and happy life.