Is junk food really that bad for you?

Is junk food really that bad for you?

Getty Images Image by: Getty Images Author: Canadian Living


Is junk food really that bad for you?

You have one friend avoiding gluten. Another who thinks McDonalds is poison. And you’re thinking of giving up dairy – or was it caffeine?

If the notion of spending at least a day not worrying about what you put in your mouth sounds appealing, a Vancouver doctor’s new self-published book may be worth a read.

In Forbidden Food, John Sloan looks at the science behind many of our anti-food obsessions, especially those we think are making us sick.

Laboratory analysis of a Big Mac shows that it contains about the same nutritional value as a meal served by your mother at 6 p.m. around the table with the rest of the family, he writes in The Province.

“Now I love the emotion and symbolism of family meals and I don’t like a lot of things about McDonald’s, but it’s a leap to identify an esthetic or moral dislike for something with getting, literally, physically sick,” he writes.

It would depend, of course, on whether that family meal was a brown rice bowl with veggies or a prime rib dinner complete with mashed potatoes and gravy, but Dr. Sloan makes a thought-provoking case.

New thinking on cholesterol and fat

In a piece in the Calgary Herald, writer Randy Shore points out that two recent scientific developments bolster Sloan’s argument: that limits on dietary cholesterol “are not supported by scientific evidence,” and that saturated fat, found in meat, cheese and butter, was not linked to coronary disease risk.

It's a controversial stance: What if otherwise healthy people can eat hamburgers or packaged snacks quite often? And what if some of the meals we cook at home are just as caloric and heavy as the fast food we shun?

Still, concerns about the large amounts of salt and sugar we eat aren't going away anytime soon. And what about our culture's vexing problem of obesity?

The doctor says it has more to do with quantity than quality.

“Eating anything you want is not the same as eating as much as you want.”

Interesting ideas to think about, for sure.

For more, here’s what’s in your fast food and a primer on food intolerances and sensitivities.


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Is junk food really that bad for you?