Fast food restaurants are on every corner and nothing beats them for convenience and speed. No matter how much we’ve heard about how terrible those meals are for our waistlines, most of us just can’t help an occasional stop at a drive-through. Here are five fast food stats and statistics of people eating fast food that might surprise you.
Surprising fact 1: 50 million eat at fast food restaurants daily.
Over 50 million Americans are served at fast food restaurants daily. And if that fast food stat doesn’t blow your mind, then consider this: 44% of Americans eat at these restaurants once a week or more (Statistic Brain, 2012).
Surprising fact 2: All types of eaters enjoy fast food.
Even health-conscious Americans eat at fast food restaurants. According to a Scarborough demographic study, gym-goers and organic shoppers frequent fast food restaurants at rates similar to that of other Americans. They do tend to choose restaurants that have healthier options, however. Perhaps these health-conscious Americans wouldn’t be surprised at point number three below (Scarborough Research, 2012).
Surprising fact 3: Some fast food restaurants do serve healthy food.
You CAN eat a healthy meal at a fast food restaurant. Some ways to do this are to keep portions small, choose fruit or vegetables instead of fried side items, eat salad without the fried or high-in-fat toppings, choose grilled over fried meat/fish, choose mustard over mayonnaise, and skip the sweetened beverages (Mayo Clinic, 2010).
Surprising fact 4: Every one budgets for food differently.
Nearly 20% of families in the U.S. spend about half of their food budget on fast food. Another 20% of families spend between 40% and 50% of their income on full-service restaurants or meals at work. Only 29% of U.S. families spend the majority of their budget to eating home-prepared meals (Fan, Brown, Kowaleski-Jones, Smith & Zick, 2007). What do you think of those statistics of people eating fast food?
Surprising fact 5: The fast food calorie count is on the decline.
The percentage of calories in the U.S. diet that comes from fast food may actually be dropping. In the 1990s, fast food consumption steadily increased, but according to CDC surveys it dropped from 12.8% of total calories in 2003-2006 to 11.3% in 2007-2010 (Fryar & Ervin, 2013).
Fan, J.X., Brown, B.B., Smith, K.R., and Zick, C.D. (April 2007) Household food expenditure patterns: a cluster analysis. Monthly Labor Review, 38-51. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2007/04/art3full.pdf
Fryar C.D. and Ervin R.B. (2013) Caloric intake from fast food among adults: United States, 2007-2010. NCHS data brief, no 114. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db114.htm
Mayo Clinic Staff (2010). Fast food: 5 ways to healthier meals. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fast-food/MY01268/METHOD=print
Allison Murray is a guest blogger and suggests visiting Dialog.Scarborough.com for more food statistics