For people eating fast food two-three times each week, the risk increases by 50 percent, and the risk climbs to nearly 80 percent for people who consume fast food items four or more times each week. It also increased the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 27 percent.
University of Minnesota School of Public Health researchers found that existing studies on fast food and metabolic risk looked at Caucasian populations, the journal Circulation reports.
"We wanted to examine the association of Western-style fast food with cardio-metabolic risk in a Chinese population in Southeast Asia that has become a hotbed for diabetes and heart disease," said Andrew Odegaard, Minnesota post-doctoral researcher, who led the study.
"What we found was a dramatic public health impact by fast food, a product that is primarily a Western import into a completely new market," according to a Minnesota statement.
Minnesota researchers with counterparts from National University of Singapore reviewed a 16-year-old study, based on the eating habits of 52,000 Chinese residents of Singapore who have experienced a recent and sudden transition from traditional foods to Western-style fast food.
"What's interesting about the results is that study participants who reported eating fast food most frequently were younger, better educated, smoked less and were more likely to be physically active," said Odegaard. "This profile is normally associated with lower cardio-metabolic risk."