Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fast Food Accounts for 11% of American Diet

Fast food accounts for 11% of the American diet
Fast food accounts for 11% of the American diet
Image: Shutterstock
We try to eat healthy as much as possible at home. We consume far more fresh produce than I ever did in my youth (when most of my veggies came from cans) and most of our meals consist of about 75% veggies and 25% meat. Sugar, salt, butter, cream, and all those delicious but overly-used additions are used sparingly. And while we might order the occasional pizza on a Saturday night, I honestly can’t remember the last time we made our way through a fast food drive-thru.

I count myself lucky in that fast food has never settled well with me. My stomach is especially sensitive and I’m a picky eater, so even as a teen I didn’t usually find fast food all that appetizing. But we still ate it from time to time because it was cheap and easy to come by.

America is still a "Fast Food Nation"
Image from
We are still a "Fast Food Nation"
But the sad truth is that many don’t feel the same, or they can’t afford to. Fast food accounts for more than 11% of the total American diet, according to federal health officials. And though that’s down two percent from a few years ago, that’s still a frightening amount, especially for young people.

The decisions we make as young adults can affect our health for the rest of our lives, and struggling with obesity in our 20s can put us at a high risk for metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and abdominal fat), diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, among others.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), people aged 20 to 39 got 15% of their daily calories from fast food, while those older than 60 came in at just 6%. Young black people aged 20-39 were even higher, with 21% of their daily calories coming from fast food.

Fruit is fast food!
Image from
FRUIT is fast food!
And it seems that obesity only compounds the issue, as a survey of weight groups revealed that obese young adults got the highest percentage of calories from fast food—18%. For the most part, income didn’t seem to have much effect on how much fast food people ate. That means at this point it’s more a battle with bad habits and ease of obtainment than anything else.

I’m all for having food that’s available quickly, especially since sometimes I’m on the road or in a hurry and need a quick bite. I’ve been happy to see some fast food establishments offering more healthy options in the past few years, and I hope that trend continues. Obesity is a dangerous problem that should be addressed, particularly by those establishments that are largely responsible for the issue.

Do you eat fast food? If you do, do you choose to do so because it is 1) inexpensive, 2) quick, 3) easily obtained, or 4) because you enjoy it?