What's the real cost of junk food?

In this final instalment of my series on eating and eating disorders, we confront the consequences of junk food consumption. As a counsellor based in Epsom, I have seen the profound impact that our dietary choices can have on our physical and mental well-being, extending far beyond the price we pay at the checkout counter. It is also important to examine the real cost of junk food and take steps towards a healthier future for ourselves and our communities.


The health toll

The consumption of junk food has been linked to a myriad of physical health problems. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers are just a few of the chronic conditions that can arise from a diet high in processed and unhealthy foods. Moreover, as we explored in my previous article, junk food can take a significant toll on our mental health, contributing to increased rates of depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. The long-term impact of these health consequences on our quality of life cannot be overstated.

Societal burden

The real cost of junk food extends beyond the individual, placing a substantial burden on our society as a whole. Junk food-related illnesses put a huge strain on the NHS. Recent statistics report that poor eating habits in the UK cost employers around £17 billion a year or 97 million lost working days whilst a 2019 study done at Brigham Young University reports that employees with an unhealthy diet are 66% more likely to experience a loss in productivity. Additionally, the impact on productivity, both in terms of absenteeism in the workplace, as well as reduced educational attainment and academic performance, has far-reaching economic consequences.

Environmental impact

The production and consumption of junk food also have a significant environmental cost. The ecological footprint of junk food production, including deforestation, habitat destruction, and greenhouse gas emissions, contributes to climate change and the loss of biodiversity. Furthermore, the packaging waste associated with junk food, often consisting of single-use plastics and non-biodegradable materials, pollutes our land and oceans, harming wildlife, and ecosystems.

Taking responsibility

Addressing the real cost of junk food requires a collaborative effort from individuals, communities, and government bodies. The government can play a role by subsidizing healthy lunches and encouraging consumers to choose nutritious options at establishments like Pret a Manger over fast food chains. Employers can also contribute by providing employees with vouchers redeemable only at healthy eating establishments.

Fast food chains should be encouraged to offer healthier alternatives on their menus. Ultimately, as consumers, we have the power to vote with our wallets and support businesses that prioritise health and sustainability. Through a combination of personal responsibility, government initiatives, and corporate accountability, we can work towards a future where the real cost of junk food is no longer a burden on our society.

The real cost of junk food is a complex and multifaceted issue that requires a collective effort to address. By recognising the health, societal, and environmental consequences of our dietary choices, we can work towards a future where healthy, nutritious food is accessible and affordable for all. As individuals, we have the power to make a difference in our own lives and our communities. Let us embrace this responsibility and take steps towards a healthier, more sustainable future.

If you are struggling with the impact of junk food on your physical or mental health, know that you are not alone. As a counsellor, I am here to support you on your journey towards wellness. Together, we can explore strategies for making positive changes in your diet and overall well-being. Reach out to me at my practice in Epsom to take the first step towards a healthier, happier you.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Epsom, Surrey, KT18
Written by David Campbell, Counsellor MBACP Registered Individual and Couples Therapy
Epsom, Surrey, KT18

David Campbell is a BACP registered therapist and offers outcome driven counselling in Epsom, Surrey and online giving you a safe, trusting and confidential place in which to be seen, heard and work through the issues you are facing. My practice is adapted to your needs allowing you to move forward with greater clarity and confidence in the future.

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