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Fast food

ingredients; calories; fats; salt; sugar; energy; artificial; flavours; colouring; fibre; processed; foods;


A bit of history

  • In the 'olden days', about when your dad's grandad was a kid, there were no televisions, no video games, and not even many cars! People ate all their meals at home, or sometimes at another family's home.
  • fast foodAll the food was prepared at home, and often vegetables would be home-grown. Meat would be bought at the butcher's shop, fruit and vegetables at the greengrocer's shop, fish at the fishmonger's shop and all the other foods and household needs at the grocery store. Bread could be bought at the bakery or often would be made at home.
  • Going out to eat at a restaurant or hotel was something that didn't happen very often, except on very special occasions for most families.
  • When cars became more popular and cheap enough for most families to own, people could get about more and go for drives. They might have gone out for fish and chips or hamburgers for a special treat.
  • drive-thru restaurantMany eating places such as roadhouses started to open, which would serve people who travelled around for their job. These eating places made meals cheap enough for a family to be able to afford to eat out.
  • In the late 1940's, 'drive-in' restaurants became popular with people in America who wanted to stop, eat in their cars and be on their way again. But sometimes this wasn't a very fast service because everything was cooked and served in the same way as it always had been. Also, eating in your car could be a bit messy and the food might be too hot or too cold!
  • The first real 'fast food' restaurants were 'invented' by the McDonald family in America.

So, what is a fast food restaurant?

The idea behind a fast food restaurant is to have an assembly line of workers all doing one little job, rather than one cook doing all the jobs.

It might work like this:

  • fast food restaurantOne person at the grill doing all the grilling
  • One place where all the salads and dressings are set out in bowls, and one or more people put the same stuff on each order.
  • One fryer for frying chips.
  • One place to get milk shakes or soft drinks, tea or coffee.
  • An ice cream machine.
  • A counter where the customer orders food then waits to pick it up.
  • All the food comes to the customer in throw away packets or wraps.
  • Cleaners go round all the time to keep the place clean.

Everyone does their one job, and because there is not a huge choice of different kinds of food, meals can be cooked and assembled very quickly.

It is easier and faster still if the food is the same size and needs the same amount of cooking.

Mass-produced food

The food that is sold in fast food outlets is made in factories, and is made with the same size of serve, same shape, same flavours and same colours .

  • hamburgerThe food for all the restaurants in the Group is made at the factory.
  • Natural and artificial flavours are added to the food so that it will taste and look good.
  • The food is frozen at the factory.
  • It is delivered to the restaurants and stored in big freezers.
  • Each restaurant in the group follows the same cooking instructions.
  • The food is presented the same way in each restaurant in the group.
  • Wherever you go the food will always look and taste the same in each restaurant in that group.

Find out the facts

Often mass-produced foods are a bit different to the food you have at home.

  • They are often lower in fibre.
  • Many are higher in fat, particularly trans fats, which taste good but are not as good for you as other fats or oils.
  • They are higher in calories.
  • They have more sugar.
  • They have more salt.

Fast foods are easy to cook quickly, and often taste really good.

  • fast foodOf course we can buy lots of 'fast' foods in the supermarkets too.
  • Many fast foods are made in factories, and frozen so that we can reheat or quickly cook them at home.
  • Some fast foods are in cans.
  • These are usually called processed foods because they have had something done to them to make them last longer, taste good, and cook or reheat quickly.
  • They are a sort of 'home cooked' fast food.
  • Check out the ingredients listed on the package to see what you are actually eating.

Take aways

There are lots of different 'ready to eat' foods that you can buy.

Many restaurants and cafes have a take away option.

So you have a bigger choice of 'fast foods' including Chinese, Asian, Greek, vegetarian, Italian and many other kinds of foods enjoyed in our multicultural country.

Dr Kate says

Dr KateDoctors are concerned that the numbers of kids who are obese is on the increase. Many fast foods have more fat, salt and sugar in them than is best for a balanced diet.

Then there are all the snack foods like chlps, biscuits and laollies which can fill you up for a while so that you don't eat better foods.

Now many fast food restaurants are changing their menus to add more fruit and vegetables, and reduce the amount of fats and sugar.
Take care to have a balanced diet and exercise every day to look after your body and keep it healthy.

Many kids have allergies to certain foods too. It is a good idea to check out the ingredients on the side of processed foods to make sure that you are eating what is safe for you.

What kids say

Fast food - KFC"I have fast food every two weeks. I mainly have chicken and chips"  - Lucy.

"Fast food is yum,
Better than bubble gum.
Fries are nice,
Better than rice
And pies are full of yummy things"
- Caitlyn

"I hardly ever eat fast food and when I do I have a small serve". - Laura

"I like the taste and the sizzling of the burgers.
I like chips.
The crunch in every bit.
I like the chicken, the potatoes and the gravy.
Fast food is great but only sometimes, maybe."

  • "We have fast food once a week on shopping night."
  • "We have our parties at Macca's or KFC. We get kids paks. It's easier for mum. She's very busy, and we all like the food."
  • "I'm not allowed to have fast food. I have a gluten-free diet."
  • "I love the subs, I like all the flavours. We go there once a week after netball."
  • "Sometimes we get take away Chinese or Indian food after sports training. It stays hot until we get home to eat it."

"Although it tastes nice,
It can be a high price.
Filled with meat and sauce
It can be quite a course.
Dine in or drive in
Put the rubbish in the bin,
You should work it off
And think before you scoff!"
- Chelsea

Burger and fries


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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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