Health Tips: How much nutrition isn’t in the fast food you eat?

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Burger King’s Bacon King serves up 1,147 calories, 79 grams fat, 30 g saturated fat and 2,153 milligrams sodium. That’s more total fat, saturated fat and sodium than you should have in a day -- and you haven’t had fries or a soda yet! You can find the same kind of health-destroying excess on the menus at scores of other fast food places, but most of us don’t realize just how overstuffed with calories, fat and sodium this food is.

A new study published in BMJ found that adults’ fast food orders at McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Wendy’s, KFC and Dunkin’ Donuts averaged 836 calories, but they thought they dished up around 660. And teens were even more in the dark. While their orders averaged 756 calories, they thought they only contained around 500 calories. 

A whopping 45% of 20- to 39-year-olds and almost 38% of folks 40 to 59 eat fast food on any given day. If that’s you, it’s time to get hip to what’s packing fat on your hips and belly, plaque in your arteries and inflammation in your joints. 

The Food and Drug Administration requires large restaurants chains to post calorie counts on their menus and make info about total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, fiber and protein available. So slow down enough to look into what you’re about to put in your mouth -- and ask yourself if you want to take the fast-food track to obesity, heart disease, dementia and other chronic conditions. Then drive on through without stopping. 

Breakthrough study looks at cigarettes, e-cigarettes and hookahs

When Gomez (John Astin) and Morticia (Caroline Jones) Addams settled in for a shared hookah session in the 1965 “The Addams Family Meets the Undercover Man” episode of their TV show, it seemed exotic and daring. Fifty-five years later, hookah/waterpipe smoking has become all too common -- one 2013 study published in the British Medical Journal found that half of younger Americans, ages 18 to 30, got their tobacco smoke through hookahs! 

That’s no way to dodge the dangers of smoking. For the first time, a study has evaluated the relative risks of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer from smoking tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes and hookahs. The findings took our breath away! 

The research, published in the European Heart Journal, found that compared with nonsmokers, tobacco cigarettes increased the risk of COPD by 704%, waterpipes by 218% and e-cigarettes by 194%. When it came to lung cancer, tobacco cigarettes blew up the risk by an astounding 1,210% and waterpipes increased the risk of lung cancer by 122%. Then there’s the finding, published recently in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, that if you get COVID-19 and are a smoker it nearly doubles your risk of progression to serious complications. Clearly, there’s no way to get around the dangers of smoking tobacco (or, we say, anything else).

But you can successfully quit! There are a multitude of resources at www.cdc.gov/quit?; www.myclevelandclinic.org and clevelandclinicwellness.com/programs; and www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline. And check out the Monday Campaigns Quit & Stay Quit Monday at www.mondaycampaigns.org/quit-stay-quit.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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