1 in 3 US adults eat fast food each day

Leslie Hanson
October 5, 2018

The conventional wisdom about fast food is that people eat it when they can't afford something better, due to a lack of money or a lack of time.

Researchers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics studied the fast food consumption of adults in the United States.

Every single day more than one third of Americans eat something that is widely known to cause all sorts of health issues - fast food. That's about 85 million people.

Eating fast food on a given day was also most common among black adults (about 42%), followed by white (almost 38%), Hispanic (35.5%) and Asian (almost 31%) adults.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the numbers Wednesday. Slightly more men than women - nearly 38%, versus about 35% - reported eating fast food over the past day. And among high-income families (those with incomes above 350 percent of the poverty line), 42 percent dined on fast food on a typical day.

Health officials say too much high-calorie fast food can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other health problems.

Fast food is on the menu all day long.

The survey assesses the health of adults and children in the U.S. and tracks changes over time, looking at who eats it (age, income, gender) and how they eat it (where and when).

'Anecdotally, I know women are much more likely to pack their lunches and I see a lot of women eat salads because they're trying to watch their weight whereas men will eat a substantial meal where it's a burger or fries or whatever, ' said Weinandy.

They also reported that as American adults aged, the percentage of daily fast food consumption lessened.

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. On a typical day, 22.7 percent of Americans get their breakfast from a fast-food outlet. Among all adults, a higher percentage of men (37.9%) than women (35.4%) said they ate fast food on a given day.

"We do know that fast food advertising has gone up during that time by pretty large amounts".

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.

Still, the CDC said that fast food's ubiquity and price can make it an attractive option for some people.

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.

"It is amusing, when we see news clips of a shark swimming near a beach, it scares us into not going near that beach".

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