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Eat at your own risk

30 Comments
Apr 15, 2012 | From the print edition

Junk food is bad for health. Its definition tells its inner story—food that is high on calories and saturated fat but low on nutrition. Junk food is all about pleasure and empty calories. So, the world is worried. It is now linked to the growing epidemic of non-communicable diseases—the ‘fat’ problem. Every ailment from heart diseases to hypertension and diabetes is linked to how one eats and how one exercises. Junk food has become the world’s biggest health headache. And some governments are taking action—banning junk food advertising in children’s programmes, removing it from schools and even imposing a fat tax. Sugar, salt and fat are items that need to be regulated. This means governments have to step in to control the powerful processed food industry. But this is not happening in India. It believes food industry has full privilege to sell anything—and kill people slowly and sweetly. So, the Pollution Monitoring Laboratory of the Centre for Science and Environment, a non-profit in Delhi, decided to investigate the food people love to eat—everything from chips to bhujia and instant noodles to burgers. All the food that is sold to us through persuasive and glamorous advertisements; all the food that our film and cricket stars tell us to eat. The laboratory checked for fats, carbs, salt and trans fats. The results are deadly and damning. Eat at your own risk, is the message.

junk food

 
Fat of the matter
FRIED POTATO CHIPS

CHIPSIt has around 33% fats. This means if one munches a standard-sized packet of chips (65-75gm), he or she consumes about half of the daily fats quota. Unlike in a balanced diet, where a maximum of 30% of calories should come from fats, 50-60% of calories come from fats in chips

INDIAN SNACKS

aloo bhujiaFats and carbohydrates combined, 100 gm of Kurkure has enough calories to satisfy one-fourth of one’s daily recommended quota. If you are fond of aloo bhujia with tea, you get high doses of salt and trans fats, along with a high amount of calories

 
INSTANT NOODLES

Maggie NoodlesThe “tasty and healthy” meal comes with high salt, empty calories. A packet of noodle has around 3 gm of salt; recommended intake is 6 gm/day. Addition of vitamins, as claimed by Maggie Noodles, doesn’t make it a healthy food as it has negligible fibres; 70% of it is just carbohydrates

POTATO FRIES

POTATO FRIESFries that one eats with burger and soft drink are laden with fats: 20% of its weight is fats, 1.6% of its weight is trans fats. By eating a large serving (220 gm), one exceeds the safe limit for trans fats. Additional trans fats come from accompanying burger too

 
BURGER

BURGERKFC’s Chicken Zinger has 16.9% fats. McAloo has 8.3% fats. How unbalanced diets are they is gauged from the fact that 35% of calories in a veg burger come from fats. In non-veg burgers 47% calories are from fats

CARBONATED DRINKS

cold drinksThe 300 ml serving that one drinks with all kinds of junk food has enough sugar (over 40 gm) to exceed one’s daily sugar quota of 20 gm. After this, forget the cup of tea, one should not even eat fruits. Any additional sugar will make one fat

 
FRIED CHICKEN

KFCRegular consumption of this product is likely to make one obese. A two-piece fried chicken of KFC (about 250gm) has nearly 60 gm of fats, which is recommended for the whole day

PIZZA

pizzaBy far, pizzas were found to be healthy compared to the other junk foods tested. They have low levels of salt and fats; levels of trans fats were also low. CSE tested only the basic pizza. Those with extra cheese are more popular and might not be very safe

 

 

cse lab report
 
Fatal combos
 
KFC MEAL
 

AddThis

Very important article on dangers of fast food being doled out by popular brands. Imported GMO's would surely have found their way into our food system. Need to bring pressure on our Govt into making labeling of GMO's mandatory.

31 March 2012
Posted by
Girish

Very Useful information, this is both good reading for, have quite a few good key

31 December 2013
Posted by
Anonymous

This is truly a great addition. I have read this dangers of fast food. I really like your way of writing.

1 January 2014
Posted by
Anonymous

Dear writers of this article,

It was a good piece of information.

In addition to the mandatory labeling given in the fourth point, there also should be information what National Institute of Nutrition prescribes for a day.

For example in this article, it writes that NIN prescribes 20 g of sugar is ideal for a day.

This information for fat, trans fat and salt should be provided on the wrappers thus helping an average person to identify the facts right when purchasing.

31 March 2012
Posted by
Gaurav

Wish Subway was also included in the survey. its increasingly being marketed as healthy, and the website lacks any nutritional info breakdown for what is served in India.

31 March 2012
Posted by
Anonymous

It has been known for a long time that they are a disaster for the body by reducing the body to the status of junk.Modern day sedentary lifestyle coupled with high fat,sugar and salt food is a perfect recipe for the body playing host to number of diseases.Western foods like these have made us turn away from traditional snacks which are nutritious and tasty.Govt should seriously consider regulating them in the best interest of the society as these are depleting the vitality and reducing the productivity of the people.With the advancement made in the medicine one can claim to overcome the diseases and live longer but it's not about longevity it's the quality that matters.

31 March 2012
Posted by
Concitiz

They won't dare to do that in the US because they know they would be sued for millions of dollars. In the rest of the world where these multinationals do business, they know that there are ways to take advantage of loopholes plus they know that most Indian consumers are not as aware of nutritional values before they consume any packed food. So we need both awareness and stricter laws or at least someone to sue one of these companies big time be it Indian or multinational.

Thanks for bringing this out in the open and blowing the lid. This will at least wake up the slumbering authorities who are paid to protect consumer interests.

31 March 2012
Posted by
Sibi Uralath

Really,its a Very important article on dangers of fast food,especially for the CHILDREN.

2.I've also watched Ms Sunita's interview on Star TV.

3.I support you and also suggest to prepare a one page Research Information and put it on You Tube or on Blogs and on social network webs like facebook etc. If a simple song like "kolavery-D" goes HIT via internet then YOUR RESEARCH HAS ALL MERITS TO REACH EVERY INDIAN.

31 March 2012
Posted by
Yogesh Patel

'Junk food villains' truely becomes a kitchroom tool and mother's recipe.

One more area of "What India needs to do" could be education is schools during PT classes and in EVS. Children should know and understand health issues from their early days. Education with fun and education during early days will make our children 'stronger' generation that ours. (I don't know if this suggestion is being heard.)

31 March 2012
Posted by
mbshukla

THANKS A LOT TO EVERY PERSONS OF C.S.E. FOR PUBLISH ABOUT JUNK AND FAST FOOD ,DRINKS .

1. SPECIAL THANKS FOR MRS SUNITA.

2.A REQUEST TO UPLOAD THE VIDEO INTO YOU TUBE

3.LET IT PUBLISH THROUGH FACE BOOK SITE .

4.LET THE CHILDREN SHOULD EDUCATE THROUGH SCHOOL.

5.PL. REFER THE SAME REQUESTED BY YOGA GURU "SWAMY

RAMDEV" DAILY TO THE CHILDREN OF EARLY AGE .

6.REFER ALSO "RAJIV DIXIT" ON YOU TUBE TO AVOID

FAST FOOD AND COLD DRINKS WHICH IS HIGHLY HARM FULL

TO HEALTH .GET THE DETAIL ANALYSIS ABOUT.

1 April 2012
Posted by
D K SAHOO

THANKS A LOT TO EVERY PERSONS OF C.S.E. FOR PUBLISH ABOUT JUNK AND FAST FOOD ,DRINKS . 1. SPECIAL THANKS FOR MRS SUNITA. 2.A REQUEST TO UPLOAD THE VIDEO INTO YOU TUBE 3.LET IT PUBLISH THROUGH FACE BOOK SITE . 4.LET THE CHILDREN SHOULD EDUCATE THROUGH SCHOOL. 5.PL. REFER THE SAME REQUESTED BY YOGA GURU "SWAMY RAMDEV" DAILY TO THE CHILDREN OF EARLY AGE . 6.REFER ALSO "RAJIV DIXIT" ON YOU TUBE TO AVOID FAST FOOD AND COLD DRINKS WHICH IS HIGHLY HARM FULL TO HEALTH .GET THE DETAIL ANALYSIS ABOUT.

1 April 2012
Posted by
D K SAHOO

A real eye opener Shall be grateful to know whether there is compliance of the Food safety and Standards Act which cameinto force recently

1 April 2012
Posted by
ashok mehta

I always wondered how Lays chips could be transfat free and now, I know the answer... they never were.

I would also like to add another item to your list - ban the free toy offers with all kinds of food targeted at children. They don't know any better and most times, neither do their parents. The free toy is really like free poison.

I think even if the government bans some things, there will be loop holes for these industries to take advantage of. The answer lies with parents; they need to guide their children and not give in every time they ask for junk food.

1 April 2012
Posted by
Mahazareen

Hello, I agree with the demand for proper labeling, but rest of things are not at all good. If branded products have so much fats and carbohydrates, then what is the food served in hotels, darshinis, rood side food vendors how much of fats, transfats is there in them goods knows definitely it is much more than the listed food here. Even you make bujji in your house then calculate all the above parameters, there is no doubt even your house bajji is also contains all the said components then what make the difference.

2 April 2012
Posted by
nRaj

How can the Indian allowance for salt be 6 grams per day? In the US, it is only 1.5 grams a day and people are much heavier on average. "Americans currently consume an average of 3,400 milligrams of salt daily. Excessive intake has been implicated in heart disease, strokes and other maladies costing billions of dollars annually. The new guidelines lower the recommended maximum daily intake of salt from 2,300 milligrams to 1,500 milligrams." For Indians, since they weigh less than Americans, the limit should be around 1.3 grams a day not 6 grams a day.

2 April 2012
Posted by
Anonymous

The study is an eye opener that even labels cannot be trusted in India. But at the same time it does not differentiate between natural transfat like CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and the artifitial ones. CLA is shown to protect against cancer and are found in over 2% in milk and meat.

2 April 2012
Posted by
vizeet

great! we need this debate to stop the obesity epidemic that's hit the western countries. Indians are prone to lifestyle disease due to poor genetic makeup, also we are getting more sedentary. we also have to deal with higher stress, in most of urban India.

I must thank the CSE for bringing up this debate. we are bombarded with visuals, mostly to the vulnerable target - kids. the corporates like nestle & others are totally disgusting in their lack of morals. they show misleading ads - vitamins in foods to boost their hollow claims.

2 April 2012
Posted by
ashok pai

gee!? you let an american company come over and sell you food?!? what did you expect really? I live in america and I don't eat mcd/kfc/bkg, I also don't think the indian govt has to tell you that mcd is bad for you. common sense really.

indians also have to get over kfc garbage, every kfc I saw in india was jam packed with people. kfc's in america are empty and going out of business.

western culture is idiotic, stop idolizing them and don't eat what they eat.

3 April 2012
Posted by
sumeet

This finding is really an eye opener.
Hats off to CSE!

3 April 2012
Posted by
Sunanth Krishnan Nair

I appreciate the good work that CSE has done by bringing out the junk food issue to the public domain. But the way the whole debate is going on, i believe we are missing the forest for the trees.

Trans fats are produced during the process of hydrogenation of oil and ,therefore, found in all types of hydrogenated oils. And hydrogenated oils used in cooking all food dishes we eat outside our homes - be it Mac or our street vendor sold samosa and the unlabeled chips found in supermarket shelves.

True KFC and Mac should serve as per their stated labels. But what percentage of Indians go to KFC or Mac? Very minuscule.

So let's focus on the big issue of use of hydrogenated oil in cooking and do something about it.

4 April 2012
Posted by
Anirban

It is pretty grim picture. WTO has enabled the multinationals invade our country and make people sick-very-sick. Our country do not have regulations of food safety and whatever little there is, it is not implemented at all. The authorities wait for a calamity to happen to act. There is no will to implement and the corrupt regime lets the MNCs to have their way freely as long as the money serves them. The value of human life is like pests, and rightly so, there are treated as such. CSE has done a good job by highlighting the issue in a scientific manner. This is a beginning and is the alarm bell for the people and the rulers of the country.

4 April 2012
Posted by
Surendera Bhanot

JUNK FOOD IS A SILENT & SLOW KILLER.
Really, it is a very informative research. My special thanks to Ms. Sunita & her team for the wonderful study.

4 April 2012
Posted by
Sonia

A GOOD ARTICLE .IT IS NECESSARY TO SPREAD THE AIR OF AWAKENESS AMONG THE PARENTS.THIS TYPE OF MATTER SHOULD BE PRESENTED ON T.V. BECAUSE CHILDREN AND EVEN ELDERS EAT WHAT T,V. SAYS OR PUT IN THEIR MINDS.

4 April 2012
Posted by
prof.vasant shethAnonymous

A good article. It gives a lot of valuable information. WE all are eating a lot of junks every day without knowing much about the danger of it. So I thank C S E team for an article like this.

6 April 2012
Posted by
Leneesh K

Hi All,

I am a good food lover and cannot stop avoiding all the above mentioned food items. You cannot find good and happy life without those items.

Could anybody have data like It will be good to have above food at defined timeframes(like weekly once or monthly once) so that could make many to go with precautionary. bottom line : once in a while is 100% good and healthy to have Junk foods. It provides even Health resistance to you automatically. else for simple things people might feel unhealthy..

Thanks to all participants

6 April 2012
Posted by
Vijay

Another eye opener from CSE. But this is common sense & we have known this all along. simple home food is best. Can CSE come up with food recipes of old times that uses raagi & millets that used to be staple diet.
Also white polished rice is one of the culprit that has dislodged other healthy cereals.

26 April 2012
Posted by
Hare

Our country is misled with the "fats are bad" fallacy which swept the US in the 80s and has made them cut fats and eat calories instead resulting in a blown up obesity epidemic.

Sweden has recognised the fallacy and are using more fats than refined carbs as their source of energy (they term it the "Low Cal High Fat" diet) and has begun to see a reverse in obesity levels.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17Sugar-t.html?pagewanted...

4 May 2012
Posted by
Naresh

Thanks for CSE specially Ms Sunita Narayan for wonderful , educative and socially responsible act of making people aware of the foods we are consuming. Hope those at Policy /Planning and Regulatory levels will at least wake up now and stop continuance of all such businesses which are playing havoc with the lives of millions of Indians including Kids.

14 May 2012
Posted by
M C Pargaien

Nice article.
However before making food labeling mandatory one has to have proper scientific data of the nutrients. Nutritional valve varies based on so many factors.Each brand might claim they use different ingredients. So first these values must be scientfically approved.

21 September 2012
Posted by
Gurushankar

The major brands like Lays and Aloo Bhujia, Bingo Oye Pudina chips, Top Ramen are clearly fooling the customers with the false claims on the packaging. And more than that it is the approach of the authorities not to take any actions that is more disgusting.

27 January 2014
Posted by
snoring causes

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