A new, sweeping study by the CDC reveals interesting data about our fast food nation

By Jeremy Glass
Updated October 22, 2018
Credit: Photo by Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Fast food has gotten a bad rap for far too long. It’s seen as a sodium-saturated, super-highway to obesity that targets those living in poverty. But that’s all changing, says the CDC—well, most of it. New data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after a three-year period of collecting data has shed some light on the way Americans eat fast food. A cross-sectional survey of 100,000 adults was conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2013 to 2016 in which “information was obtained via an in-person, 24-hour dietary recall interview with trained interviewers” in mobile examination centers.

Of the myriad conclusions found in this data collection journey, some of the most interesting points revolve around the type of people who are eating fast food nowadays. First off: Everybody’s eating fast food—about 37% of adults in the United States admitted to consuming fast food on a given day, with 44.9% of those consumers falling in the age range of 20 to 39.

Once thought to be the fare of poorer individuals unable to afford nutritional meals, it was also found that “the percentage of adults who ate fast food rose with increasing income,” meaning the more you make the more you eat out.

When it comes to the financial status of those 100,000 adults, 32 percent of their subjects making less than the federal poverty line ($32,630 a year for a family of four) eat fast food daily, while “42 percent of people above 350 percent of the poverty line—$112,950 a year or more for that size family—were daily consumers.”

That’s right, it’s not just those under the poverty line munching on McDonald’s, Burger Kind, and piping hot ‘za. Another interesting conclusion that came from this study was the fact that men are more likely to eat fast food for lunch, while women usually have it for a snack. The fast food customer is changing, but the food generally remains the same with Americans being served food that’s incredibly high in fast and cholesterol. Not to make major assumptions here, but it looks like guys are dead set on sealing their fates as the ones who die first.