We're Starting to Eat Less Fast Food

Fast food consumption by American adults in slight decline

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Adults in America have been eating slightly less fast food over the past few years. The reduction isn’t a huge change, but slow and steady decline is much better than no decline at all.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released a report on American adult fast food consumption between 2007 and 2010. Researchers surveyed adults all over the United States about what they’d eaten in the past 24 hours.

Results showed that adults ate an average of 11 percent of their total calories from fast food restaurants, which was a slight drop from the 13 percent reported in 2006.

"Make healthy eating choices."

Cheryl D. Fryar, MSPH, and R. Bethene Ervin, PhD, RD, from the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC in Hyattsville, Maryland, compiled this report on US adult fast food consumption.

For the study, researchers collected and analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2007 and 2010. The survey was conducted over two years and asked people what they had eaten in the past 24 hours.

During this period, researchers found that adults in the US ate 11 percent of their total calories from fast food restaurants. When compared to 2003-2006 data, fast food consumption had dropped from 13 percent.

The researchers split survey answers up by age, gender, ethnicity and income. Adults aged 60 and over reported only 6 percent of their calories coming from fast food restaurants. Adults between the ages of 20 and 39 reported the highest levels of fast food consumption at 15 percent of total calories.

Women reported slightly (approximately 1 percent) less fast food consumption compared to men, but researchers did not consider this margin significant.

Non-Hispanic black adults reported the highest levels of fast food consumption at 15 percent of total calories compared to 11 percent among Hispanic and non-Hispanic white adults.

Overall, income did not play a significant role in fast food consumption. People below the poverty line reported 12 percent consumption, while people more than 350 percent above the poverty line reported 11 percent consumption.

The only real difference was found in the age range of 20 to 39 years, in which people below the poverty line reported 17 percent consumption, and people more than 350 percent above the line reported 14 percent consumption.

Obese people reported that 13 percent of their calories came from fast food. The rate increased to 18 percent among obese people between 20 and 39 years of age.

Among normal weight and underweight people, fast food consumption was reported by 10 percent overall and by 14 percent of those between 20 and 39 years of age.

Since the survey only questioned participants on the food they had consumed in the past 24 hours, these results may not truly represent the fast food percentages in the American diet.

This study was published in February on the CDC website.

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Review Date: 
February 21, 2013
Last Updated:
August 16, 2013