1 in 3 USA adults eat fast food each day

Grant Boone
October 5, 2018

A previous report estimated that adults consumed 11.3 per cent of their total daily calories from fast food. The overall percentage of adults who consumed fast food decreased with age, increased with income, and was higher among non-Hispanic black persons compared with other race and Hispanic-origin groups.

In addition to analyzing the entire US adult population, the CDC found that age is a factor in determining whether people will eat fast food.

Researchers analyzed several years worth of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Almost 45% of those between the ages of 20 and 39 eat fast food each day, but just 24.1% of those aged 60 and over do the same.

Fryer said she and her colleagues chose to look into fast food consumption statistics because this type of fare has been linked with increased intake of calories, fat, and sodium. More surprisingly, the study debunked the idea that fast food is generally eaten by people from lower economic and social backgrounds. Forty-five percent of adults ages 20 to 39 ate fast food, while only 24 percent of adults over 60 had fast food as a meal or snack.

Blacks were more likely to have eaten fast food on a given day than whites (roughly 42 percent vs. 38 percent, respectively), while 35.5 percent of Hispanics and 31 percent of Asian-Americans did so. On a typical day, 22.7 percent of Americans get their breakfast from a fast-food outlet.

She believes that policymakers, doctors and health food advocates need to "beat fast food companies at their own game" in order to turn things around.

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Fast food has become a major part of the American diet, and a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals just how many adults eat it. Its biggest fans are African Americans, 42.4 percent of whom ate it on a typical day.

"On average, they'd gone 2½ - actually 2.4 - times per week". We do know that parents take their children, they say, because it's convenient, it's a good value, and their kids like the food.

Liz Weinandy, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, conceded that it's unsurprising that younger people eat the most fast food, but she said the rates are very concerning.

Weinandy said while it's not realistic to tell people not to eat fast food, she would like to see healthier options.

Fast food restaurants have earned a reputation of serving meals and snacks both high in calories and lacking key elements such as fruits and vegetables.

"When we see news clips of a shark swimming near a beach, it scares us into not going near that beach", Weinandy said.

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