Here’s how much fast food Americans are eating

Study 1 in 3 U.S. adults eat fast food each day

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.

But despite public health campaigns, new figures released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 37 percent of USA adults are not taking the message to heart.

"On any given day in the United States, an estimated 36.6% or approximately 84.8 million adults consume fast food", said Cheryl Fryar, first author of the report and a health statistician at the CDC.

Among those whose family income was less than or equal to 130 percent of the federal poverty line (which was set at $11,770 for a single person or $24,250 for a family of four in 2016), 31.7 percent ate fast food on a typical day.

For the report, researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2013 and 2016.

When it came to gender, men were most likely to buy fast food for lunch, while women would purchase it as a quick and cheap snack.

When comparing race, the highest percentage of consuming fast food was among non-Hispanic black adults at 42.4 percent.

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. Only 24.1 percent of adults aged 60 and older consumed fast food, while 37.7 percent of adults ages 40 to 59 and 44.9 percent of adults aged 20 to 39 did.

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Perhaps surprisingly, the CDC found that fast food consumption grew with increasing family income.

Of all respondents, 43.7 per cent said they bought fast food for lunch, it was 42 per cent for dinner, while 22.7 per cent opted for the breakfast menu.

"In addition, a higher percentage of non-Hispanic white adults consumed fast food than did non-Hispanic Asian adults". That's significantly more than the 39.1 percent of women who do the same.

By now, you might be wondering what it would take for Americans to dial back their addiction to fast food.

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

Cheskin, who is also director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, emphasized that foods high in sugar and fat can raise the risk of certain chronic health problems.

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

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.

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