Category Archives: Junk Food Addiction

Because a Whopper just wasn’t enough …

4CheeseWhopper-DetailBurger King has introduced the Four Cheese Whopper. For anyone who’s wondering about this new extra cheesy Whopper, what we can tell you right now is that it doesn’t actually contain four cheeses. Instead, consumers will find a three cheese blend, American Cheese and cheddar sauce between the bun.

So if the term “four cheese” conjures up images of asiago, havarti, white cheddar and fontina in your mind, this sandwich will certainly fall short of your expectations. FoodFacts.com finds the terms three cheese blend and cheddar sauce highly suspect. But without the presence of an ingredient list, can you blame us?

What we do have right now are the nutrition facts. And here they are, in all their not-so-glorious detail:

Calories:                     850
Fat:                             57 grams
Saturated Fat:           21 grams
Cholesterol:              115 mg
Sodium:                    1160 mg

How does the Four Cheese Whopper stack up against a regular Whopper with Cheese?

We’re sure you’ve assumed that it’s worse. And you’re right — it is. 120 additional calories, 13 more grams of fat and 30 additional mg of cholesterol. It does contain slightly less sodium than the Whopper with Cheese.

While we don’t have access to the ingredients, we can tell you that the ingredients in the Whopper with Cheese certainly leave a lot to be desired. It features 120 ingredients and only one type of cheese. Ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, sorbitol, sodium benzoate and propylene glycol are featured in the ingredient list. And there’s artificial color in the cheese. So we’re assuming that the ingredient list for the Four Cheese Whopper (essentially a Whopper with extra cheese) will feature a similar ingredient list. And that three cheese blend and that cheddar sauce — we’re fairly certain that those will contain controversial ingredients as well.

In short, we didn’t like the Whopper with Cheese. Now we can multiply that by four.

http://www.bk.com/menu-item/four-cheese-whopper

Welcome back the Yumbo!

BK_Yumbo_detailMost of you are probably thinking to yourself, “Welcome back the what????”

In order to answer your question, we’ll have to go back to Burger King in 1968. That was the year that the Yumbo was first introduced. The sandwich was very popular and enjoyed a six-year run before it was retired in 1974.

While FoodFacts.com isn’t quite sure where it’s unusual name came from, we are sure that the Yumbo isn’t typical Burger King fare. It’s simply a hot ham and cheese hoagie with lettuce and mayonnaise. Which, according to various internet commentary, has some fast food fans puzzled. It’s not a burger. It’s not a chicken sandwich. So what’s it doing on the Burger King menu?

Well, according to Burger King, people have been asking what happened to the sandwich. Seems it’s a favorite childhood memory for many customers. And Burger King is making an effort to bring back some those memories.

Burger King made an all out effort to do just that with the Yumbo. It overhauled its Facebook page and made it appear as though the posts were from 1974. It even invited visitors to call the Yumbo at 844-BK-YUMBO. That toll-free line connected callers to the “Yumbo Social Hotline,” and asked callers to like or comment on the sandwich on its page.

It doesn’t appear that folks who don’t remember the Yumbo are embracing it quite as enthusiastically as those who fell in love with it 40 years ago. Comments include the sentiment that the Yumbo took very little effort for Burger King and that you really need to be in the third grade to think that this is anything special.

O.k. it isn’t a Whopper. But it is certainly a simpler menu offering for Burger King which may be refreshing for some. While we don’t have an ingredient list for the sandwich, here are the nutrition facts:
Calories:               490
Fat:                       24 grams
Cholesterol:         65 mg
Sodium:               1770 mg

So what should we make of this? Let’s put it this way — it really might as well be a burger. As a matter of fact, the Yumbo is pretty much the equivalent as the Burger King Double Cheeseburger. It has 40 more calories and about the same amount of fat. The Yumbo has less cholesterol. But it also contains A LOT more sodium.

Maybe it’s just us, but we don’t expect a hot ham and cheese sandwich to carry the same nutrition facts as a fast food burger. Guess we should have remembered that the Yumbo is a fast food hot ham and cheese sandwich and this shouldn’t have been surprising.

Those of us of a certain age should probably just enjoy our Yumbo memories and not try to make new ones.

http://www.bk.com/menu-item/yumbo-hot-ham-cheese-sandwich

High-fructose diet in adolescence may be linked to depression later in life

urlDepression and anxiety have become common conditions these days. Millions of highly functional, accomplished people are taking antidepressants to combat the effects of these issues as they battle depressive behaviors every day. We do know that nutrition can play a role in depression. Studies have been conducted that have linked junk food consumption to behavioral health difficulties. New information, however, is pointing to a specific culprit consumed during a specific time period and showing a definite link to the development of depression.

The consumption of a diet high in fructose throughout adolescence can worsen depressive- and anxiety-like behavior and alter how the brain responds to stress, according to new animal research scheduled for presentation at Neuroscience 2014, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

“Our results offer new insights into the ways in which diet can alter brain health and may lead to important implications for adolescent nutrition and development,” said lead author Constance Harrell of Emory University in Atlanta.

Harrell is a graduate student working with Gretchen Neigh, PhD, assistant professor of physiology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine.

Fructose, a sugar found naturally in fruits and vegetables but also added to many processed foods and beverages, can promote negative cardiovascular effects. It also stimulates neural pathways that affect how the brain responds to stress, which can have important behavioral effects, including the worsening of symptoms related to depression and anxiety. Such effects are of particular concern during the teen years, which is a critical time for the development of the brain’s stress response.

To determine whether fructose consumption has the potential to create long-term changes in metabolism and behavior during adolescence, Harrell and her colleagues gave both adolescent and adult rats either a standard or a high-fructose diet. After 10 weeks, the adolescent but not adult rats on the high-fructose diet had a different stress hormone response to an acute stressor, which was consistent with their depressed-like behavior. A genetic pathway in the brain that plays a key role in regulating the way the brain responds to stress was also altered.

These findings indicate that consuming a diet high in fructose throughout adolescence may exacerbate depressive behaviors and affect the way the body and the brain respond to stress.

FoodFacts.com is always concerned about nutritional awareness in our teenagers. Unlike younger children, teens spend more time away from our homes and our kitchens. They are more likely to consume junk food containing high-fructose corn syrup on a regular basis. Healthy eating habits begin early. And while we’re not going to prevent teenagers from eating bad food when they’re away from us, the habits we instill early on will influence the choices they make as they get older. Depression is debilitating. We owe it to the coming generations to help them avoid behavioral conditions as much as we can. It’s important to remember that sugar-addicted children become sugar-addicted teens. We need to exercise control over our children’s dietary habits while we can. There’s no room for sugary beverages and processed foods in the diets of small children if we want them to grow into teens who make healthier food choices away from home.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141118141852.htm

McDonald’s answers some questions about the McRib

HT_mcrib_beauty_jtm_141104_16x9_992Possibly the most iconic of any of the McDonald’s menu items, the McRib might just have more fans than the Big Mac. Part of its appeal comes from its limited time availability releases. Since fast food lovers can’t always have a McRib, its allure is heightened. For FoodFacts.com the McRib is not an alluring sandwich. It’s nutrition facts and ingredient list tell us to stay far away from it.

McDonald’s recently launched a new campaign called “Our Food, Your Questions” in an effort to offer consumers more transparency into exactly what’s in their menu items.

The latest dish it tackles is the popular McRib, which only makes limited-time appearances, causing fervor among its devotees. Here’s a step-by-step look at how the beloved barbecue sandwich is made.

Step 1: It begins with boneless pork shoulder.
“We have a boneless pork picnic, which is the main ingredient in the McDonald’s McRib patty,” Kevin Nanke says. “This is what we purchase and bring in to the facility to make the McRib.”

Nanke is the vice president of Lopez Foods in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which is McDonald’s USA pork supplier. All the bones and gristle from the pork shoulder are removed to prepare for grinding.

Step 2: The meat is ground and flavoring and preservatives are added.
During grinding, water, salt, dextrose and preservatives are added to the meat.
The dextrose is a type of sugar used to add sweetness, and the preservatives (BHA, propyl gallate and citric acid) help maintain the flavor, according to McDonald’s.

Step 3: The McRib shape is formed.
In the factory, the ground meat is pressed into the iconic McRib shape, meant to resemble meat and bones — except this is all meat, and the bone shape is pork as well.

Step 4: Water is sprayed on to prepare for freezing.
A fine mist of water is added to the formed McRib to prevent dehydration during freezing.

Step 5: The McRib is frozen.
The factory flash-freezes the McRib to prepare for shipment.

Step 6: The McRib is cooked.
When the McRib is at the restaurant and ready to be prepared, it’s cooked in a Panini press-type machine.

Step 7: The McRib patty is done when both sides are seared to a golden brown.
Food safety, quality and regulatory technicians at Lopez Foods regularly make test batches for quality assurance.

Step 8: After it’s seared, the cooked McRib marinates in barbecue sauce.
The barbecue sauce has a lot of ingredients. According to McDonald’s, here they are and why:

For flavor and texture: Tomato paste, onion powder, garlic powder, chili pepper, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, natural smoke flavor (plant source), salt, sugar and spices

For flavor and as a preservative: Distilled vinegar

For thickness, body and sheen: Water, xantham gum, soybean oil, modified food starch

For color: Caramel color, beet powder

As a preservative: Sodium benzoate

Step 9: The sandwich is assembled.
First, the hoagie-style roll is toasted and layered with onions and pickles before the McRib is placed on.

McDonald’s has been criticized for using azodicarbonamide in their rolls because the same ingredient is used in non-food products, such as yoga mats. Here’s the official explanation:
“The ingredient you refer to is azodicarbonamide (ADA) and it’s sometimes used by bakers to help keep the texture of their bread consistent from batch to batch, which is why it is used in the McRib hoagie-style roll.”

“There are multiple uses for azodicarbonamide, including in some non-food products, such as yoga mats. As a result, some people have suggested our food contains rubber or plastic, or that the ingredient is unsafe. It’s simply not the case. Think of salt: the salt you use in your food at home is a variation of the salt you may use to de-ice your sidewalk. The same is true of ADA — it can be used in different ways.”

The rest of the ingredients in the roll are:

Main ingredients: Enriched bleached flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water

For caramelization when toasting: High fructose corn syrup

For volume and texture: Yeast, wheat gluten, enzymes, sodium stearoyl lactylate, DATEM, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono and diglycerides, calcium peroxide

For tenderness: Soybean oil

For flavor: Salt, barley and malt syrup, corn meal

For leavening: Calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate, monocalcium phosphate

As a preservative: Calcium proponiate

As for the other ingredients, the onions are just onions, and the pickles have multiple ingredients, all below:

Main ingredients: Cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar

For flavor: Salt, natural flavors (plant source), polysorbate 80 (emulsifier: helps ensure that the spice blend disperses within the brine), extracts of turmeric (for color and flavor)

To maintain crisp texture: Calcium chloride, alum

As a preservative: Potassium sorbate

So McDonald’s is being upfront about the ingredients used in the McRib. And while we think it’s impressive that they’re coming forward with them, we’re honestly offended at their attempt to gloss over the use of azodicarbonamide, as well as how they’re attempting to explain away other controversial ingredients like polysorbate 80, natural flavors, caramel color and high fructose corn syrup. Intelligent consumers aren’t going to accept the idea that McDonald’s needs to use polysorbate 80 to ensure that the spice blend (or natural flavors) disperses within the pickle brine.

Instead of providing transparency, it may appear to some that McDonald’s is actually attempting to make light of the controversial ingredients consistently included in their menu items. Maybe if they tell us they are necessary, we’ll ignore them.

http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/mcrib-made/story?id=26683944

Dunkin introduces the Croissant Donut

dunkinYou might remember back in 2013 the Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City debuted its now famous Cronut — a unique hybrid of a croissant and a donut. To say that it took off would be an understatement. While no one has the recipe from the commercial bakery, Dominique Ansel did work out a version of his recipe for home bakers. It’s quite complicated — taking three days from start to finish. In addition, it’s REALLY unhealthy. And honestly, it should be. It’s a cross between a croissant and a donut — each of which is an unhealthy choice all by itself. Put them together in that recipe and you end up with 26 tablespoons of butter and oil as needed for deep frying. Pretty astonishing.

So when Dunkin Donuts introduces a Croissant Donut, we would assume pretty quickly that their version of this dual-action baked good is going to outdo the unhealthiest of their regular donuts. While the Croissant Donut doesn’t present the ideal nutrition facts or ingredient list, we’re pleased to tell you that it’s fairly equal to the rest of the donuts on the Dunkin menu. Let’s take a look:

Calories:                     300
Fat:                             14 grams
Saturated Fat:           8 grams
Sugar:                        12 grams

How does that stack up against the Glazed Plain Cake Donut?

It’s actually a little better. The Croissant Donut has 60 less calories, 8 fewer grams of fat, 2 fewer grams of saturated fat and 7 less grams of sugar. We’re not really sure how that’s possible if the donut is going to be flaky and buttery like a croissant. But those are the nutrition facts for the new donut.

Here are the ingredients:

Croissant Donut: Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Ascorbic Acid, Folic Acid, Enzymes), Water, Unsalted Butter, Sugar, Palm Oil, Yeast, Whey Powder (Milk), Salt, Wheat Gluten; Glaze: Sugar, Water, Maltodextrin, Contains 2% or less of: Propylene Glycol, Mono and Diglycerides (Emulsifier), Cellulose Gum, Agar, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Vanillin (an Artificial Flavor). May contain traces of Eggs, Soy, and Tree Nuts (Pecans, Hazelnuts).

There are controversial ingredients in the Croissant Donut, but surprisingly there are fewer of them in this new offering than there are in that Glazed Plain Cake Donut.

Does FoodFacts.com think that the Croissant Donut is a healthy choice? No, we don’t. But we do have to admit that on the Dunkin Donuts menu, this is actually among the better options. We do have to point out, though, that both the nutrition facts and ingredient list do not point to buttery, flaky, fried pastry. We have to think that the original Cronut will safely hold on to its throne as the king of unhealthy hybrid fried pastry.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/food/bakery/donuts/donuts.html?DRP_FLAVOR=Croissant+Donut

Taco Bell making fast food faster … sort of

141028101756-taco-bell-app-620xaThese days there really is an app for everything. There are mobile coupon apps from major supermarkets, apps from manufacturers offering deals and discounts, apps for travelers looking for deals at their intended locations. The lists are endless. So it isn’t any surprise that fast food chains are introducing their own apps. Up until now, though, we haven’t been able to order from fast food restaurants directly from our smartphones. That’s all changing.

Taco Bell is the latest company to jump into the app craze.

Taco Bell has unveiled a new app that allows customers anywhere in the country to place their orders using their iPhones and Androids. They still have to go the restaurant to pick up their Doritos Locos in person, though.

“You get to skip the line,” said Jeff Jenkins, director of mobile experience at Taco Bell, which is owned by Yum! Brands.

But he said there’s no feature to select a pickup time because the food won’t be prepared until the customer arrives.

So what’s the point of using the app? Jenkins said both restaurant and customer will both get a heads up from the app once you get close to the Taco Bell.

“When you get within 500 feet of the location, you get a notification on your phone that says, ‘Looks like you’ve arrived. Would you like us to start preparing your food?’” he said.

Taco Bell is also promoting the fact that app-ordering customers can customize their orders, by adding or omitting ingredients.

Taco Bell’s move comes close in the heels of Starbucks , which announced its app earlier this month. The Starbucks app, which will debut in Portland later this year and go nationwide in 2015, allows customers to place their coffee orders via iPhone.

Other fast food companies have apps, though they don’t necessarily allow customers to place orders via smartphone. McDonald’s has the McD App, which is primarily for learning about special offers and locating restaurants.

Wendy’s has an app that allows customers to pay for meals via smartphone, but they have to go to the restaurant to do it. Customers deposit money into their phone’s Wendy’s account for that purpose. The maximum balance is $100, which buys about 20 Baconators, depending on the location.

FoodFacts.com is pretty sure that ordering fast food via app will mature and grow into the whole experience — place your order by smartphone, pay for it by smartphone, go to the nearest location and pick up your order seamlessly. We’re not there yet. Taco Bell’s new app might save fast food consumers a little time — but it probably won’t be much. We’ll just have to wait a little while longer for the fast food industry to help their customers consume bad food in record time!

http://money.cnn.com/2014/10/28/news/companies/taco-bell-app/

Fast food menus claiming less calories … sort of

fast food slimmingFoodFacts.com ran across some seemingly encouraging news today regarding calories and fast food menus. As we read further, though, we realized that there’s a bit of a “smoke and mirrors” component going on with these claims.

A comprehensive new report is revealing that fast-food chains have been cutting calories on their menus.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, menu items introduced by big chain restaurants—including McDonald’s, Chipotle, and IHOP—had, on average, 60 fewer calories than items released in 2012. That’s a 12 percent drop in calories.

The study looked at 19,000 menu items served in 66 of the 100 largest restaurant chains in the U.S. from 2012 to 2013. The biggest drops were in new main course offerings (67 calories), followed by new children’s (46 calories) and beverage (26 calories) items.

However, the overall mean calories didn’t budge. The burger chains aren’t cutting the calories of their signature burgers; they’re just adding healthier items, such as salads, to the menu. Time posits that the lower-calorie menu additions are popping up because restaurants with 20 or more locations in the U.S. have to list calorie counts on menus.

But according to the study’s lead author, Sara N. Bleich, 200 extra calories a day can contribute to obesity.

“You can’t prohibit people from eating fast food, but offering consumers lower calorie options at chain restaurants may help reduce caloric intake without asking the individual to change their behavior—a very difficult thing to do,” Bleich said in a statement.

“This voluntary action by large chain restaurants to offer lower calorie menu options may indicate a trend toward increased transparency of nutritional information, which could have a significant impact on obesity and the public’s health,” Bleich said.

On the other hand, FoodFacts.com just wants to put out there that these voluntary actions by large fast food chains may be more about seeking to change public perception than an attempt to increase nutritional transparency of menu items. Since there is no chain that’s actually reformulating their signature items in attempt to decrease calories, we do have to think this might be true. While it’s important for fast food restaurants to introduce lower calorie options, as long as their main offerings remain as they are, it’s somewhat misleading to say that menus are slimming down. It all depends on what the consumer chooses to eat, not on the concentrated efforts of chains to reduce calories in items across their menus.

http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/10/12/fast-food-menus-are-slimming-down–theres-catch

Under the Bun: Wendy’s Pulled Pork Cheeseburger … can you say overkill?

pulled-pork-cheeseburger-carls-jr-hardeesSometimes FoodFacts.com tries to imagine how fast food chains comes up with their new and “different” ideas. For instance, how did Taco Bell arrive at the Waffle Taco for their breakfast menu. It isn’t exactly a natural concept to use a waffle as you would a taco shell — and while we have to admit that it might get points for creativity, texturally we just don’t see a match there. That Waffle Taco, for us, also falls into the overkill category. Too much going on to be a hand-held breakfast. We do find that many of the new fast food introductions are just “too much” — and we think the length of the ingredient lists certainly substantiate our opinion.

Wendy’s newest introduction does appear to fall into the overkill category. The Pulled Pork Cheeseburger brings together elements that we just don’t think belong in a sandwich together. We can’t help but wonder who thought of this one. It’s sort of a reach.

Let’s go under the bun and find out what’s really in the Pulled Pork Cheeseburger. First you should know what you’ll find under that brioche bun — a stack of a cheeseburger, broccoli slaw and pulled pork. The nutrition facts here just can’t be good. Let’s take a look:

Calories                                 640
Fat                                         33 grams
Saturated Fat                       13 grams
Trans Fat                              1.5 grams
Cholesterol                           130 mg
Sodium 1                              260 mg

There’s just too much of everything going on in here and none of it’s good. The nutrition facts for this sandwich are what gives fast food a bad name.

Let’s not forget to detail the ingredient list:

Brioche Bun: Enriched Wheat Flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Water, Sugar, Yeast, Buttermilk Powder (whey solids, enzyme-modified butter, maltodextrin, salt, guar gum, annatto and turmeric [color]), Egg Yolks, Butter, Salt, Dough Conditioner (wheat flour, DATEM, contains 2% or less of: silicon dioxide [flow aid], soybean oil, enzymes [wheat], calcium sulfate, salt), Dry Malt, Calcium Propionate, Dough Conditioner (degermed yellow corn flour, turmeric and paprika [color], contains 2% or less of: natural flavor), Egg Wash (eggs, water). CONTAINS: WHEAT, EGG, MILK, 1/4 lb Hamburger Patty: Ground Beef. Seasoned with Salt, Cheddar Cheese Slice: Cultured Pasteurized Milk, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto Color. CONTAINS: MILK. Broccoli Slaw: Broccoli, Carrots, Red cabbage, Broccoli Slaw Sauce (soybean oil, water, white wine vinegar, sugar, egg yolk, distilled vinegar, mustard seed, salt, white wine, onion [dehydrated], xanthan gum, spice, garlic [dehydrated], citric acid, tartaric acid. CONTAINS: EGG, Smoky BBQ Sauce: Water, Tomato Paste, Sugar, Distilled Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Modified Cornstarch, Chili Peppers, Natural Flavor Including Smoke Flavor, Caramel Color, Onion (dehydrated), Garlic (dehydrated), Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate (preservatives), Chipotle Peppers, Molasses, Spices Including Mustard Seed, Jalapeno Pepper (dehydrated), Tamarind, Soybean Oil. Pulled Pork: Pork, Water, Modified Food Starch, Salt, Sodium Phosphate.

That’s about 86 ingredients with more than a few sources of hidden MSG and six controversial ingredients. That is definitely what we consider overkill. While we know there will be an audience for the Wendy’s Pulled Pork Bacon Cheeseburger, we’ll be sitting this one out. Even before we got to the bad nutrition facts and ridiculously long ingredient list, we couldn’t figure out why we’d want to eat a cheeseburger, broccoli slaw and pulled pork piled inside the same bun. Maybe it’s just us …

https://www.wendys.com/en-us/nutrition-info

Don’t eat that! It will spoil your appetite! Junk food just might do exactly what your mother warned you about …

Assorted Junk FoodYou have at least one memory from your childhood featuring your mom or your grandmother or some other well-meaning adult admonishing you in a harsh tone. “Don’t eat that! It will spoil your appetite!” It might have been cookies, or candy or chips. Inevitably, it was very close to dinner time. And odds are, you weren’t pleased by the words.

As it turns out, junk food really might spoil your appetite — on a more permanent basis.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales Australia conducted several studies to see how junk food would impact rats’ weight and dietary preferences. Of course, they found the obvious—junk food “makes rats fat.” But they also determined that junk food-fed rats experienced a reduced desire for novel foods, which is important as this appetitive tendency, innate in animals, typically encourages rats’ to pursue a balanced diet.

“Eating junk food seems to change the response to signals that are associated with food reward,” commented Prof. Margaret Morris, Head of Pharmacology from the UNSW Australia’s School of Medical Sciences and a study co-author.

How did the researchers come to this conclusion?

For several weeks, the team fed one group of animals a diet of healthy rat food, and they fed another group of rats a diet that included not-so-healthy human foods such as pie, dumplings, cookies and cake. Both groups of rats were also given cherry and grape sugar water to drink. The junk food-fed rats wound up weighing 10 percent more than their healthy food-fed counterparts.

In one of the experiments, the team taught these rats to associate cherry and grape sugar water with different sound cues. The healthy rats responded appropriately to the sound cues—that is, if they had just consumed grape sugar water and then heard another cue for grape sugar water, they wouldn’t drink more of it. Junk food-fed rats, on the other hand, would respond to sound cues in an unhealthy manner—if they heard a noise associated with grape sugar water, they would drink said sugar water even if they had just consumed a lot of it. (The same findings hold for cherry sugar water.)

In other words, it appears junk food-fed rats don’t seem to realize when they’ve overindulged in a food (the flavored sugar water); instead, they respond to the sound cues just the same, whereas healthy rats stop responding to the food they just ate.

“We know a lot about food and nutrition and what we should be doing, and yet we’re getting fatter and fatter,” Morris says. “Our sort of diet appears to override an animal’s ability to know it’s just eaten something—they’re just eating indiscriminately, if you will.”

In another experiment, the researchers wanted to see whether the apparent disruption of the reward mechanism persisted after the junk food-fed rats were placed on a healthy diet. Even after a week on healthy rat chow, the formerly junk food-fed rats still acted the same way, treating both solutions indiscriminately, according to Morris.

“It suggests that whatever changes happen in the brain may persist for a while,” she says.

The study, while pertaining to rats, has a lot of troubling implications for humans. Rat behavior often gives insight into human behavior—which means we should think deeply about junk food’s psychological and public health impacts.

Science is constantly offering us new perspectives on our health and our foods. FoodFacts.com can say with confidence that those new perspectives simply uphold what nutritionists, dietitians, researchers, and educated consumers have known all along. Junk food is nutritionally vacant. What it does provide, unfortunately, are high levels of sugar, salt and fat, contributing to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. And according to the study detailed here, it can interfere with our normal tendencies to balance our diets, thus leading to more of the same. Now that’s a new perspective — not to mention yet another significant reason to stay far away from junk food.

http://www.newsweek.com/junk-food-addictive-avoid-trying-new-foods-266803

Can junk food destroy your sense of smell?

iStock_000014140533SmallWe’re all pretty comfortable with the knowledge that junk food is bad for our health. We know that an unhealthy diet has been linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Junk food isn’t just nutritionally vacant, it has known negative health effects that severely debilitate lifestyles and can result in serious medical problems and even death. But are there other problems that can result from the consumption of junk food that we haven’t been aware of?

A new study has revealed eating junk food could increase the risk of a person destroying their sense of smell.

The findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, show diet may impact a range of human traits apart from weight.

Dr Nicolas Thiebaud, of Florida State University, said: ‘This opens up a lot of possibilities for obesity research.’

It is the first time researchers have been able to demonstrate a firm link between a bad diet and a loss of smell.

In the six-month study mice were given a high-fat daily diet, while also being taught to associate between an odour and a reward of a drink of water.

Mice given the food were slower to learn the association than a control group given their usual meals.

And when researchers introduced a new fragrance to monitor their adjustment, the mice with the high-fat diets could not rapidly adapt, demonstrating reduced ability to smell.
Fellow researcher Professor Debra Ann Fadool said: ‘Moreover, when high-fat reared mice were placed on a diet of control chow – during which they returned to normal body weight and blood chemistry – they still had reduced olfactory [smell] capacities.

Scientists at Florida State University found links between a high-fat diet and major structural and functional changes in the nasal system

‘Mice that were exposed to high-fat diets just had 50 percent of the neurons that could operate to encode odour signals.’

The team will now begin looking at whether exercise could slow down a high-fat diet’s impact on smell.

They will also investigate if a high-sugar diet would also have the same negative effect.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the study comes at an important time with obesity rates at all time highs throughout the world.

It certainly appears that the effects of junk food reach further than any of us expected. FoodFacts.com can’t help but wonder whether there may be other damaging effects related to junk food consumption that haven yet to be uncovered.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2701382/Junk-food-destroy-sense-SMELL-scientists-warn.html#ixzz39TgEfjmW