Look, it's not like you really need another reason not to eat your lunch out of a grease-soaked paper sack every day. Yes, fast food is delicious and cheap and, without those regular McLunches, you'd never have a full set of Lego Batman toys—but you also wouldn't make people lose their own lunch every time you opened your stank-ass mouth. According to recently published research, frequent fast food eaters are more likely to have bad breath.
In a paper titled "Prevalence and Associated Factors of Subjective Halitosis," which was originally published in the journal PLOS ONE, a group of doctors in Korea surveyed almost 360,000 teenagers to determine how many of them had scuzz breath, and to figure out why. Almost one quarter of them (23.6 percent) reported that they had problems with halitosis and the chance of tongue funk increased with a number of behavioral and dietary factors, including obesity; high-stress levels; eating fast food, sweets, and instant noodles; and not eating vegetables or fruits.
These researchers chose to study halitosis in adolescents ranging from 12 to 18 years old because they believed that this demographic was more likely to eat fast food and junk food than their adult counterparts. The study participants were asked how often they consumed fruit (real fruit, not juices), sodas, fast foods—defined as "pizza, hamburger or chicken"—instant noodles, confections, or veggies during the previous week. The teens who reported that they ate fast food more than three times per week were 15 percent more likely to have trash breath.
The research team provided several reasons why fast and junk foods might contribute to halitosis, ranging from an increased rate of cavities or tooth decay to the gastric reflux associated with eating garbage foods. (The study also found an unsurprising correlation between obesity, fast food consumption, and halitosis, which seems damning for everything with a drive-thru window, on a number of levels).
If you worry about how your own mouth smells, the authors would strongly suggest that, before you pick up your toothbrush, you should pick up a piece of fresh fruit or a bowl of vegetables. "In contrast, vegetable and fruits with high fiber contents promote gastric emptying," the study says."Moreover, certain vegetable extracts such as green-tea extract and vegetable acetone powder have been reported to effectively remove [foul smelling volatile sulfur compounds] and to reduce gingivitis, subsequently reducing halitosis."
So there you go. If you absolutely have to order a Happy Meal, maybe pick up an extra package of apple slices to go with it.