America's love for fast food shows no sign of slowing down

Despite scores of health-conscious documentaries, television shows and news articles, Americans still eat fast food with regularity. Photo: Wikicommons

WASHINGTON, August 9, 2013 – With all the information out there emphasizing just how unhealthy fast-food is, you would think Americans would get the hint. Unfortunately, just as we know beyond a doubt that exercising regularly leads to a healthier and productive life, it doesn’t seem to matter. How many of us exercise as much as we should?

We’ve had our fast-food fill in films: Supersize Me, Food Inc., and even Jamie Oliver’s attention-getting Food Revolution network television show. The facts about the short-term and long-term effects of fast-food are readily at hand and quite literally in our face, most of the time.

Fast-food companies are aware of this easily-accessed information and combat it through relentless advertising, trying to make their food appear healthy.

According to a new Gallup poll on fast-food consumption in the U.S., around eighty-percent of those polled indicated they still take meals via drive-through at least once a month. For nearly half of that group the frequency is at least once a week.

And what’s significant about this number is that it’s not the poorer of those polled who chow down the most when it comes to fast-food. It’s the middle-income person who earns between $50,000 to $75,000 who frequents fast-food places of business - even more than the studied counterpart earning $20,000 to $30,000.

Based on frequency of visits, the numbers haven’t changed much at all since 2003. Of those polled, 3% say they consume fast-food on a daily basis, only down 1% since 2003. Some 16% claim a fast-food meal several times a week now vs. the 17% who did back in 2003.

From the data supplied by Gallup, it’s easy to conclude that Americans love the convenience of fast-food and do not seem to care about the adverse health effects. We prefer easy over healthy.

In fact, a reported 76% in the Gallup Poll admitted that they don’t believe fast-food is “very good for you.”

What may be the most concerning demographic, however, is that of the young adults, aged 18-29, who eat out most often. More than half of those polled (57%) said they dine on fast-food weekly. While fast-food consumption does decline with age, one can’t help wonder the health of those younger will look like in another 20 years.

The poll also looked at racial and ethnic groups and determined that blacks (52%) and Hispanics (53%) have the highest rates, whereas non-Hispanic whites come in at 46%.

One thing seems to be for certain, fast-food isn’t going away any time soon, if ever. We live in a relatively free country where the people can decide where and how they want to eat. As long as the fast-food chains keep manufacturing “food” that appeals to the senses and provides flavors its patrons enjoy, don’t expect to see dramatic changes in these trends.

If nothing else, the fast-food poll proves Americans will buy any food, if priced cheaply enough, even if they know the products are not good for them. The results of this poll and other food trends of major food corporations, provide good indicators that America’s collective waistline will not be slimming any time soon.


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Duane Pemberton

Duane Pemberton is a food and wine writer who is also the owner of WineFoot.com. Pemberton is also a well read automobile reviewer and critic, all of which incorporates into his travel, wine and food reviews.

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