Fast food is associated with all types of health problems. But in the U.S., it’s something adults just can’t seem to live without.
More than a third of American adults—36.6%, to be exact—admitted to eating fast food on a given day between 2013 and 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed in a new study published this week. The data doesn’t say that those same people eat fast food every day, but each day of the year, nearly 37% of American adults are consuming fast food. The CDC didn’t say whether the consumption figure has risen or declined since 2016.
The CDC noted in its statement that fast food has been associated with a variety of problems, including elevated caloric intake and poor diet quality. Often, doctors warn patients from consuming too much fast food for fear of health problems that could arise from eating too much of it to the detriment of healthier alternatives, like fruits and vegetables.
Still, the CDC said that fast food’s ubiquity and price can make it an attractive option for some people.
In addition to analyzing the entire U.S. adult population, the CDC found that age is a factor in determining whether people will eat fast food. Nearly 45% of those between the ages of 20 and 39 eat fast food each day, but just 24.1% of those aged 60 and over do the same. And as family income rises, so, too, does a person’s likelihood of eating fast food.
Men are more likely to eat fast food at lunch, according to the CDC, but women tend to eat fast food as a snack more often than men. Non-Hispanic black adults ate more fast food in the study than non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic Asian, and Hispanic adults, according to the CDC.