More Than 80 Million U.S. Adults Consume Fast Food on Any Given Day
More than a third of Americans eat fast food on any given day.
That's the key finding of a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) that tracked the fast food consumption of Americans between 2013 and 2016.
"On any given day in the United States, an estimated 36.6 percent or approximately 84.8 million adults consume fast food," report first author and CDC statistician Cheryl Fryar told CNN.
Registered dietitian at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Liz Weinandy, who was not involved in the report, said that adults underestimate the risks posed by fast food, which is typically high in fat, calories, salt and sugar but low in essential nutrients.
"It is funny, when we see news clips of a shark swimming near a beach, it scares us into not going near that beach. However, what we should be scared of is double cheeseburgers, French fries and large amounts of sugary beverages," Weinandy told CNN.
Fryar said her team conducted the research because of the supersized role that fast food has come to play in U.S. eating habits.
"We focused on fast food for this report because fast food has played an important role in the American diet in recent decades," she said. "Fast food has been associated with poor diet and increased risk of obesity."
Overall, the study found that percentage of fast-food-eating adults decreased with age, with 44.9 percent of adults aged 20 to 39 indulging, 37.7 percent of adults 40 to 59 eating the stuff and only 24.1. percent of adults aged 60 or more chowing down on any given day. More men consumed fast food than women, for a difference of 37.9 percent vs. 35.4 percent.
A breakdown of adult fast food consumption by age and sex.CDC NCHS
One surprising finding was that fast food consumption actually increased with income. Only 31.7 percent of lower-income Americans, defined as those living on an income equal or less than 130 percent of the national poverty level, ate fast food on a given day compared to 36.4 percent of middle income Americans and 42 percent of higher income Americans.
"That connection or correlation is opposite of what I perhaps would have expected," Director of Clinical Research at the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Dr. Lawrence Cheskin told CNN. "But we need these kinds of studies and these kinds of facts and statistics to get a better understanding of what drives the use of foods that, as a nutrition expert I would say, are not your first choice for a variety of reasons."
A breakdown of adult fast food consumption by income level, based on the federal poverty level (FPL) and sexCDC NCHS
When it came to race and ethnicity, the breakdown of fast-food consumption on any given day was as follows:
- Non-Hispanic black adults: 42.4 percent
- Non-Hispanic white adults: 37.6 percent
- Hispanic adults: 35.5 percent
- Non-Hispanic Asian Adults: 30.6 percent
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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