Fast Food, Slow Decline

Fast Food, Slow Decline

Dr. Pip discusses the dangers of fast food and his own experiments with some sandwiches.

Dr. Pip Spandorfer
Dr. Pip Spandorfer

Resist temptation. You know it is probably not good for you anyway. Which temptation am I talking about this time? Fast food.

I heard about someone who did an experiment a while ago. They bought a McDonald’s burger and put it on the bookshelf for five years. The sad thing was that it didn’t get moldy or disintegrate. I thought this might be a good visual demonstration for my patients and encourage them to avoid fast food. So, I bought a cheeseburger (definitely not kosher) and left it on my counter for two months. Amazingly, it didn’t get moldy. The bun dried up a little, but no mold or decomposition.

I thought how clever would I be if I showed it to my patients; they would see the burger and realize that there is something inherently wrong with fast food. So, I started to tell my pediatric patients that I did a science experiment. I wanted to see if they could guess how much mold grew on a burger that I let sit out for two months. Of course, everyone was really shocked at how there was no decomposition of the burger or the fries.

The surprising result of my science experiment was that all the parents would proudly say, “We don’t go to McDonald’s; we go to Chick-Fil-A.” As if Chick-fil-A is healthier. Naturally, I purchased a Chick-fil-A sandwich and let it sit out for months as well. No one should be surprised that there was no mold growing on the Chick-fil-A sandwich, either.

I’m not sure exactly what it is about fast food that keeps it from decomposing; it could be the salt, the fact that it was fried, the preservatives in the food itself, etc. But the unfortunate reality is the fast food still looks pretty good after 2 1/2 years sitting on my bookshelf at work.

According to an October 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, about one-third of all adults in the U.S. consume fast food on any given day. The proportion decreased with age, meaning 20-year-olds were almost twice as likely to eat fast food than 60-year-olds. Contrary to popular opinion, the higher the family income, the more likely people were to eat fast food. Men tended to eat lunch and women tended to get a snack from a fast food restaurant.

One-third of children eat at a fast food restaurant every day. Teens were found to consume twice as many calories from a fast food restaurant as children under 10 years of age. All these statistics are concerning for me as I try to encourage people to choose a healthier lifestyle.

Eating fast food is associated with obesity, which leads to higher levels of coronary artery disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke and cancer, among other medical ailments. There are large amounts of carbohydrates, added sugars, sodium and fats in many of the processed foods sold at fast food restaurants.

In terms of practical advice, there are several things you should do if you are going to a fast food restaurant:

Plan ahead when choosing a restaurant so that you won’t be tricked into getting a combo meal. Try to keep the calorie count under 500. Salads are a good option if you get them without cheese and with a low-fat dressing.

Grilled is always a better option than fried.

Avoid sugary drinks.

Getting healthier is a process that starts with one small step. All you need to do is to take the first step.

As I tell my patients, if rats, maggots and mold won’t eat this food, why would you?

Try to be healthy and make good decisions about your food.


Dr. Pip Spandorfer is a local pediatrician in practice for over 20 years and an active member of Congregation Etz Chaim in Marietta.

read more: