Eating fast foods for one month has a harmful effect on the liver indicated by an elevation of certain liver enzymes. Researchers in Sweden followed 12 men and six women in their twenties for one month. All volunteers were slim and in good health and ate two meals per day at McDonalds, Burger King or other fast-food restaurants. The goal of the study was to increase body weight by 10 to 15 percent. Levels of a liver enzyme called ALT increased after only one week, and quadrupled on average over the entire period. When your doctor does a routine blood study, certain liver enzymes are evaluated, including ALT which stands for alanine aminotransferase. In the majority of the volunteers, ALT rose to levels that would normally reflect liver damage. Two of the individuals had liver steatosis. Steatosis (also called fatty degeneration) is the process of abnormal accumulation of fats within a cell. It reflects an impairment of the normal processes of synthesis and elimination of triglyceride fat. This study clearly showed that high ALT levels can occur due to unhealthy food intake alone.

   Comments: To be honest, I stop at a fast food restaurant a few times a year when I am taking a long road trip and there are few options on the road except for a highway exit that leads to a fast food restaurant. I order a burger with diet soda but I eat very little of the bun. I am not a purist in the sense that 100 percent of my food consumption has to be perfectly fresh and healthy. It's too stressful to be a perfectionist. I don't think there's any harm in eating fast foods a few times a year. My concern involves people who eat these types of foods several times a week and habituate their children to these meals.

   If you would like to see an entertaining movie regarding this topic, consider renting the 2004 movie Super Size Me. See also