Junk Food Eruption - © via You Tube

Sunday Musings: Should Junk Foods Display Warning Labels?

It’s an intriguing idea. And there are lots of good reasons being expressed both in favour and against. But recent revelations that Junk Food is just as addictive as heroine or nicotine have made the question of McWarnings even more contentious…

Happy Fast Food Worker - © Koshij via PintrestA smiling Fast Food worker assembles an order: Blissfully unaware
that she’s serving up an array of potentially deadly products…

A parallel with tobacco

Junk Food is running a marketing and social course in parallel with that already trodden by tobacco. And as more and more folks talk about it, the idea that Junk Food should carry health warnings on its package labels is gaining more and more traction.

‘Tobacco Kills’

It’s been known and proven since the mid-19r0s that tobacco’s tar and other smoky chemicals raise your risk of developing cancer. And from the very fist puff, its nicotine is getting you addicted to a hard, merciless drug.

Relatively late in the 20th century regulators started demanding that tobacco product packages carry prominent warning labels. Fist they were text message. Then they escalated to photos of blackened lungs and throat cancer victims on respirators. Not to mention mothers with children who had birth defects traced to smoking.

But the warnings have not had as substantial an effect on reducing smoking as lad been hoped. And new smokers are still lighting up every day. Especially young folks, who think they’re bullet-proof.

‘Junk Food Kills’?

The evidence is incontrovertible. But the danger is more or less invisible – until it’s too late.


First and foremost, the danger of consuming excess salt has been known for decades. It promotes cardiovascular disease, which kills more than a million people every year in North America. And cripples hundreds of thousands more.

Each year, over 60,000 Canadians will suffer their first heart attack. Another 50,000 will suffer a stroke,” Amgen.ca reports.

And the stats are even more alarming in the US, where the population is some 10 times larger. The Centers for Disease Control report:

  • In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds.
  • Every year, about 805,000 people in the United States have a heart attackOf these:
  • 605,000 are a first heart attack,
  • 200,000 happen to people who have already had a heart attack,
  • About 1 in 5 heart attacks are silent—the damage is done, but the victim is not aware of it.

The bottom line is grim:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.
  • One person dies every 33 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.
  • About 695,000 people in the United States died from heart disease in 2021—that’s 1 in every 5 deaths.
  • Heart disease cost the United States about $239.9 billion each year from 2018 to 2019. This includes the cost of health care services, medicines, and lost productivity due to death.

Excess fat can raise the risk of various cancers, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Saturated fats and trans fats are particularly bad. Medline explains:

  • Heart disease risk. Your body needs healthy fats for energy and other functions. But too much saturated fat can cause cholesterol to build up in your arteries (blood vessels). Saturated fats raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Weight gain. Many high-fat foods such as pizza, baked goods, and fried foods have a lot of saturated fat. Eating too much fat can add extra calories to your diet and cause you to gain weight. All fats contain 9 calories per gram of fat. This is more than twice the amount found in carbohydrates and protein.

The number-one dietary culprit that causes obesity. And there’s a lot of it in most fast foods – even condiments and some meat products.

According to Healthline, research shows that too much added sugar also

  • Increases Risk of Heart Disease: Evidence suggests that high-sugar diets can lead to obesity and inflammation as well as high triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels — all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
  • Is linked to Acne
  • Increases Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • May Increase Your Risk of Cancer
  • May Increase risk of Depression: While a healthy diet can help improve your mood, a diet high in added sugar and processed foods may contribute to changes in mood and emotions.
  • May Accelerate the Skin Aging Process
  • Increases Cellular Aging
  • Drains Your Energy: Foods high in added sugar quickly spike blood sugar and insulin levels, leading to increased energy.However, this rise in energy levels is fleeting.
  • Increases Liver Fat
  • Increases Kidney Disease risk
  • Negatively impacts Dental Health
  • Increases the risk of Gout: Gout is an inflammatory condition characterized by pain in the joints. Added sugars raise uric acid levels in the blood, increasing the risk of developing or worsening gout.
  • Accelerates Cognitive Decline: High-sugar diets can lead to impaired memory and have been linked to an increased risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke.

Additives constitute a large and complex chemical family. They are added to fast foods as preservatives, texturisers, flavouring agents and much more.

The Better Health Channel provides an in-depth discussion of additives, their uses, and their effects.

Processed Foods

Again, this is a whole ‘nother family of ingredients, techniques – and dangers. The Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA) offers a concise, well-linked discussion of the dimensions and particulars of the dangers of processed foods.

My take

I’m entirely confident in saying there’s more than enough evidence proving that Fast Food is ‘hazardous to your health’ – in multitudinous ways. I heartily endorse adding health warnings to Fast Food packages.

But, given the questionable success of such warnings on tobacco products, I’d support going even further.

Let’s think about making Junk Food purveyors change their ingredient formulations and manufacturing methods to massively reduce the bad stuff in their products.

And let’s focus especially on the Salt, Fat and Sugar content of Fast Foods, that make them so highly addictive to humans.

My questions to you…

Are you with me?

Or do you disagree with me?

Or do you give a damn, at all?

Muse on that…

~ Maggie J.