It’s time to talk about takeaways

Source: Jonathan Borba via Unsplash
The public are blissfully unaware of the contents of their guilty pleasure

by Adam Clarke

*Warning – this article contains discussion of food and calories*

Let’s face it, we all love a bit of fast food from time to time. Whether it’s a greasy kebab after a night out or a takeaway pizza for a movie night, it’s sometimes hard to resist the ease of taking the unhealthy option. 

But having watched ‘The Truth about Takeaways’ on BBC one last week (it’s still on iPlayer if you’re interested), I was shocked as to how unhealthy taking that option actually can be. 

The show essentially opened people’s eyes to the truth that we all bury our heads in the sand to avoid; there are a shed load of calories, fats and sugars in almost all of our favourite takeaway guilty pleasures. The show namedropped Dominos, stating that a single large stuffed crust pizza contained almost the same amount of calories as the guideline daily amount for women. Fast-food favourites such as curry, kebabs and burgers also had their food stats named and shamed, with only KFC coming out of it with any meagre credit.

“People queued for five hours for the grand opening of the restaurant – this shows the length to which people will go for a taste of a new kind of fast food”

These stats were shocking and I feel that people should be made aware of the potential harm consuming this kind of food can do to their health. The packaging of cigarettes makes it graphically clear how dangerous they are, and we are always reminded to ‘drink responsibly’ when it comes to alcohol yet there seems to me to be no legislation in place that makes it totally explicit to the public how damaging fast food can be. According to NHS data, over a quarter of men and women in the UK are obese and there were over 600,000 obesity-related admissions to hospital last year – an 18% increase on the previous year. Surely more can be done to combat this issue and one thing that I will help is making it a lot more obvious how unhealthy certain foods are, in the same way that the dangers of smoking and alcohol are advertised.

I’m not going to pretend that the fact these foods were unhealthy came as a huge surprise, we all know they aren’t good for us, however, the size of the numbers involved will certainly make me think twice before ordering a takeaway again. I’m not saying that I will never eat fast food, as some people on twitter did after the show aired, but I will pay a lot more attention to the calorie and fat content of my food as a result of having watched the show. The sheer number and variety of fast food outlets available in Cardiff is mind-blowing and the recently opened Taco Bell outlet – Wales’ first – only adds to this. People queued for five hours for the grand opening of the restaurant – this shows the length to which people will go for a taste of a new kind of fast food. 

Whilst I am in no way against fast food (I’ve been to Taco Bell and can confirm the reports that it’s delicious), I just feel that, from a public health point of view, how unhealthy it is should be more clearly signposted so that people can make better-informed decisions about what they’re eating and the effect it can have.


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