How does junk food damage your body?

Coach Shivani
January 11,2023

With the mouth-watering, tempting, and aromatic sight of junk foods at every corner, it has become a difficult task to stick to a healthy diet. Junk foods can be convenient and tasteful, but they lack in terms of essential nutrients. Junk foods have massive popularity among children and adults. You love grabbing a bite of pizza, a pile of hot chips, and a cup of ice cream to satisfy your hunger cravings. Statistics reveal that 36.3% of adults in the United States eat fast food daily. While we do not have such data in India, we can safely assume that it will be similar.

A limited amount of junk food does not hurt your body and your weight loss, but constant unhealthy eating can harm your body in numerous ways. In this article, we will explain how junk food damages your body.

junk food

What is junk & fast food?

Junk and fast food often confuses people who want to ensure healthy eating. Junk foods, also known as “empty calories” are foods that deliver little in terms of nutrition but a lot in terms of calories. In comparison, fast food is designed to provide you with ready-to-eat food in the quickest possible way. Fast foods can be healthy and unhealthy depending on the food, but junk foods always fall under the umbrella of unhealthy foods.

Junk and unhealthy fast food can spoil your overall wellness. It can damage your metabolic system and heart health and cause respiratory problems. Unhealthy foods enriched with high sugar & salt and other additives can also contribute to obesity.

Also Read: How to Stop Junk Food Cravings

Why are junk & fast foods harmful?

Unlike healthy meals, junk and fast foods contain many saturated fats and sugar. Understanding the critical ingredients of fast and junk foods is essential to avoid health issues created by junk food. The following points will help you understand the effect of junk food on health;

  • Sugar is the most popular ingredient, which is added almost in every fast and junk food. The overconsumption of this ingredient can be linked to a number of problems, like diabetes.
  • Sodium (salt) is used as a preservative to enhance the shelf life of fast and junk foods. Consuming higher content of sodium than recommended can increase blood pressure rates and cause kidney disorders.
  • Some artificial additives are added to fast and junk foods to make them taste better and last longer. These chemicals can compromise the quality of foods, making them unhealthier for your body.
  • Trans fats are also sometimes found in fast and junk foods. These fats can lower high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and increase low-density lipoproteins (LDL) thus causing cholesterol and heart problems.

Also Read: Should You Avoid Junk Food?

The negative effects of junk & fast food on the body

Poor-quality meals containing junk and fast foods can damage your mental and physical health. You must understand the bad effects of junk food to avoid them in your routine diet.

Effects on the digestive system

Fast and junk foods contain saturated fats, carbohydrates, and other refined ingredients. Some studies suggest that fast and junk foods can contribute to digestive problems and gastrointestinal tract cancer.

When your digestive system breaks down the carbohydrates of fast and junk foods, it releases the carbs in your body. These carbs work as glucose and can spike your insulin levels.

Sodium (salt), a common ingredient of every fast and junk meal, can cause severe health conditions in people struggling with high blood pressure.


Studies highlight that 70% of the daily recommended amount of salt comes from fast foods and processed meals.


The higher amount of sodium can also make you feel bloated or puffy after eating fast food. People with sensitive stomachs can also experience digestion issues including bloating and constipation.

Effects on the cardiovascular system

Eating foods enriched with sugar & salt may trigger inflammation and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. A diet that includes sugary sodas, fries, burgers, and other unhealthy foods can contribute to the formation of artery-clogging plaque.

Consuming junk and fast foods often can increase the chance of obesity, which contributes to poor heart health. The saturated and trans fats of fast and junk foods can also increase your cholesterol levels and risk for stroke and heart attacks.

junk food effects on health

Effects on the central nervous system

Your central nervous system may also experience problems from fast food and junk food. The negative impact of fast and junk food on your nervous system is not apparent. Researchers are still making efforts to come up with the most factual claims.

 A study in 2020 revealed that college students who eat more fast and junk foods are more likely to have lower short-term memory scores.

Effects on the reproductive system

Phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA) are widely used industrial chemicals that may adversely impact human health. Humans can be exposed to it through diet, including consumption of processed or packaged food.

A study from 2019 found that processed foods can be a source of these harmful chemicals which can hurt your body’s hormonal functions. Long-term exposure to phthalates can negatively affect your fertility.

Effect on mental health

Eating fast and junk food will not only harm your physical health; it can also disturb your mental health.


Research has found that a high intake of takeaway, refined foods and confectionery is associated with an increased risk of mental health problems including depressive symptoms in adolescents, as a result of excess body fat and inflammation.


It shows that unhealthy eating habits can damage your mental health at an early age. This has been confirmed in other studies which showed that eating fast-food and sugary drinks increases the risk of developing mental health problems at an early age.

Healthier alternatives to fast & junk foods

Avoiding your stomach’s cravings for junk and fast foods is difficult. But you can find some healthier alternatives to these unhealthy foods to avoid the health issues created by junk food. 

The following alternatives to fast and junk foods can help you find some options that work for you:

  • Try vegetable chips instead of potato chips.
  • Used baked veggies and sweet potatoes in place of french fries
  • Eat yogurt fruit popsicles instead of ice cream to satisfy your sweet cravings
  • Use homemade smoothies instead of pre made milkshakes and protein shakes
  • Drink fruit-flavored water or iced tea instead of sugary drinks 

Also Read: Healthy Snacks For Weight Loss

The bottom line

Fast and junk food is a popular and convenient choice in today’s hectic routine. But saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, salt, sugar and artificial ingredients deliver no nutritional value to your body. Eating fast and junk food can adversely affect your mental, reproductive, cardiovascular, and central nervous systems.

Use the alternatives discussed in this article to make healthy swaps and reduce the amount of junk food and fast food in your life. You will benefit both in terms of better health and weight loss.

About the Author

Coach Shivani
Shivani is a Precision Nutrition-Certified Nutrition Coach with experience of coaching thousands of women. As a mom of two, Shivani knows what it takes for women to achieve weight loss & a healthy lifestyle through diet, exercise & sleep habits. She dislikes one-size-fits-all type advice.

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