Authors of a study published in The American Journal of Cardiology last week concluded that consuming statins with a cheeseburger could neutralize the effects of fast food.
The researchers from Imperial College London, led by Dr. Darrel Francis, stress they are not encouraging people to consume fast food regularly, but because many people fail to lead a healthy lifestyle, offering statins along with fast food could protect people from heart disease.
Statins are drugs used to lower cholesterol. According to the National Institutes of Health, they are relatively safe for most people, but are not recommended for pregnant patients or those with active or chronic liver disease. They can also cause serious muscle problems. Some statins also interact adversely with other drugs.
The British Heart Foundation, which financially supports Francis, stated that the suggestion should not be taken literally.
“A junk food diet has a wealth of unhealthy consequences beyond raising cholesterol. It can cause high blood pressure through too much salt, or obesity through eating meals loaded with calories. These are all risk factors for life-threatening health problems such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and stroke,” said the foundation’s Professor Peter Weissberg.
Although handing out a pill sounds easier, Food Quality News questions why we aren’t focusing on educating children about nutrition in schools and why foods with a higher nutritional value cost more than fast food.
The American Academy of Pediatrics made similar recommendations a year ago to prescribe cholesterol-lowering statin drugs to obese children as young as 8 years old.
Although fast food restaurants have altered their menus to offer healthier options, the old classics are still there and are by far the most popular.
Critics of the idea argue that we as a society must take into consideration whether the idea of handing out statins will help people or make them worse off by enabling them. This practice would not emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle and cannot be a cure-all for the growing epidemic of obesity.