We Really Do Live in a Fast Food Nation

One out of three U.S. adults eats fast food on any given day.


Photo by: ClaudioVentrella


We Americans talk a pretty good game these days about trying to eat healthy, trading greasy fast-food burgers and fries for more nutritionally defensible salads, avocado toast and quinoa. But are we really following through?

A new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests we may not be. On a typical day, more than one out of every three U.S. adults (37 percent) eats fast food, according to the report. That’s about 85 million Americans scarfing down what are often high-cal, high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar meals daily.

And if that finding doesn’t surprise you, this part of the study, which was based on a survey of about 10,000 adults age 20 and up over a period of four years (2013–2016) may: The percentage of adults who eat fast food on any given day is actually higher among those with higher family incomes. (At least they can presumably afford the doctors bills, should they develop diet-related health issues, like diabetes, high-blood pressure, heart disease or obesity.)

The study also looked at the correlation between age and fast-food consumption and found that the older people get, the less they tend to eat fast food. So while 44.9 percent of people ages 20 to 39 eat fast food on any given day, about 37.7 percent of those ages 40 to 59 do and only 24.1 percent of those ages 60 and over do. (Hold your early bird special jokes, please.)

A greater proportion of non-Hispanic black adults consume fast food on a typical day than do non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic Asian and Hispanic U.S. adults, the study concluded. And of those who eat fast food, men were more likely than women to eat it for lunch and women more likely to eat it as a snack.

Maybe because, when afternoon snack time rolls around, we woman are hungry after eating those healthy salad and quinoa lunches? It’s a theory, anyway.

Photo: iStock

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