You know it: Too often, we are living in a buzz fast world. And when it’s time to eat something, Americans often opt for the quick way to try to satisfy hunger: now, ready, set: fast food.
Go to a nearby fast food establishment and you’ll see a line of cars outside as patrons wait to give orders, without stepping out of their cars. And many fast food restaurants are open day and night, 24 hours. How many young adults have that craving for food at any hour? And where do they go? Fast food.
Over 36 percent of adults – 84.8 million – in the United States consume fast food on any given day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics data brief that covered 2013 to 2016. Among adults, a higher percentage of men, (37.9 percent) than women (35.4 percent) consumed fast foods. That could include the usual staple of fare, such as burgers – and bigger burgers – and French fries and even larger fries, among other fried foods.
“Fast food is definitely a part of the American diet and has been associated with high caloric intake, and poor diet quality,” the CDC says in a new report. “There are many reasons why people go and get fast food: time, convenience, and price.”
Fast food, however, isn’t considered healthy because there is often too much sodium, calories, fat, cholesterol, and sugar associated with it. When too much fast food is eaten, it can be linked with an increased risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health problems. Some people also may want to avoid fast foods such as hamburgers or sandwiches, if they are trying to maintain a relatively low-carb diet.
The CDC issued its report because fast-food is so much a part of how Americans eat. “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, a health statistician at CDC and a first author of the report in a statement. “Fast food has been associated with poor diet and increased risk of obesity.”
Among adults who consumed fast food, the most commonly reported times for when they did so were lunch, (43.7 percent) and dinner, (42 percent) followed by breakfast, 22.7 percent, and snacks, 22.6 percent.
Men were more likely to eat fast food at lunch, and women as a snack.
Young People Like Fast Food – And the More Well-to-Do
In the CDC study, there are some interesting revelations. Mostly, younger people opt for fast foods – and that may be no surprise! – and those people with higher incomes eat more fast food, and that may be surprising.
- The percentage of adults who consumed fast food decreased with age, the CDC said. While nearly 45 percent of those aged 20 to 39 were among the adults who consumed fast food on a given day, 37.7 percent aged 40 to 59, and 24.1 percent for those 60 and over. That age pattern was observed for both men and women.
- The percentage of adults who consumed fast food increased with “increasing family income,” the CDC says, with more than 31 percent of lower income people, 36.4 percent of middle-income, and 42 percent of higher income adults consumed fast food on a given day.
Some healthy alternatives
Hungry consumers don’t need to be bogged down in simply fast food choices if they are in a hurry or on the run. There are various alternatives, including low fat cheese sticks, yogurt, cut vegetables, or fruits, such as bananas and grapes.
If you want that burger, maybe put aside the bun, which generates higher calories. And replace the fries or potatoes chips with salad or fruit. And ask for meat that is grilled, or without the skin.