It’s no surprise that America is a fast food nation. We all know that we consume a crazy amount of generally unhealthy fast food. But you may not realize just how MUCH and how OFTEN.
One-third of Americans will eat fast food today, if they didn’t already stop off for a greasy drive-thru breakfast already. According to a new survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6.6% of American eat some kind of fast food on any given day. That means 37.9% of men and 35.4% of women chomp down on something that your grandma would not approve of.
The rub is that all these burgers and fries are giving us more than just heartburn. As the CDC warned in its statement, fast food has been linked to a variety of problems, including high blood pressure and obesity. It also tends to replace the stuff we all need to be eating more of: fruits and veggies.
“We focused on fast food for this report because fast food has played an important role in the American diet in recent decades,” said Cheryl Fryar, first author of the report and a health statistician at the CDC, as CNN noted. “Fast food has been associated with poor diet and increased risk of obesity.”
The scariest part of it all: it’s not just that we are pressed for time and money at lunch. Apparently this is whole day phenomena for many Americans.
The report, published by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, showed that 22.7% of Americans get their breakfast from a fast-food chain. At luncht, 43.7% of Americans pick up a quickie meal, and 42% do it AGAIN for dinner. Another 22.8% nibble on a fast-food snack. Nearly half of men — 48.3% — eat fast food for lunch on any given day (only 39.1% of women do also).
The good news is that fast food binges decrease with age. The number drops from 44.9% aged 20–39, 37.7% aged 40–59, and only 24.1% aged 60 and over. Of course, seniors also have more time than the rest of us, some of whom may only have time to eat while in their cars driving from one gig to another, no?
Perhaps the most fascinating nugget in this data snack is that the more money you have, the more likely you are to get your fast food on.
Among those whose family income was less than or equal to 130% 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% ate fast food on a typical day, as the LA Times cited. Middle-income families (whose income was between 130% and 350% of the poverty line), 36.4% ate fast food on any given day. Among high-income families (those with incomes above 350% of the poverty line), 42% dined and dashed on fast food.
These numbers should scare us all straight, suggests Liz Weinandy, a registered dietitian at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, as CNN cited: “It is funny, when we see news clips of a shark swimming near a beach, it scares us into not going near that beach. However, what we should be scared of is double cheeseburgers, French fries and large amounts of sugary beverages.”
How much fast food do Americans eat?