A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that fast food has indeed become a major part of the American diet.
Data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) showed that between the years 2013 and 2016, about 37 percent of American adults consumed fast food on any given day.
Study author and CDC health statistician Cheryl Fryar said that the number is equivalent to about 84.8 million adults consuming fast food on any given day in the United States.
“We focused on fast food for this report because fast food has played an important role in the American diet in recent decades,” Fryar told CNN.
People between 20- and 39-years-old were the most likely to say they consumed fast food during the past day, at nearly 45 percent. They were followed by people in the 40 to 59 age bracket, 38 percent of whom said they consumed fast food in the past day. The rate in people older than 60-years-old is 24 percent.
Eating fast food was most common among black adults at 42 percent and least among Asian adults at nearly 31 percent. More men reported eating fast food over the past day than women.
Data also revealed a link between income and consumption of fast food. Nearly 32 percent of lower-income adults, 36.4 percent of middle-income and 42 percent of higher-income adults claimed they had eaten fast food.
This came as a surprise due to the conventional wisdom about fast food that people tend to eat them when they can’t afford something better because of constraints in time or lack of money. The report suggests this is not necessarily the case.
“The overall percentage of adults who consumed fast food decreased with age, increased with income, and was higher among non-Hispanic black persons compared with other race and Hispanic-origin groups,” Fryar and colleagues wrote in the NCHS data brief.
“Among men and women who consumed fast food, a higher percentage of men ate it for lunch, while a higher percentage of women ate it as a snack.”
Despite its popularity, fast food has been linked with poor diet and elevated risk for obesity and a range of health conditions. Fast food generally contains a high amount of salt, sugar, fat, and calories that, in excess, are associated with the development of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, weight problems, and high blood pressure.
Experts recommend that people include plenty of fruits and vegetables in their diet.