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Fast food: not for the faint at heart

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Oct 30, 2018 at 2:01 AM

Q: Who consumes the most convenience food in America?

A: More than a third of adults in the United States patronize fast-food restaurants on any given day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released data on fast-food consumption gathered from 2013 to 2016. Fast food — defined broadly as any item obtained from a “fast food/pizza” establishment — is eaten by 37 percent of American adults during the day.

Among those who eat fast food, 44 percent do so at lunch and 42 percent at dinner. Men are more likely to grab lunch; women are more likely to snack.

The most enthusiastic consumers are 20 to 39 years old: 45 percent of them eat fast food on any given day. That figure declines sharply with age, to 38 percent among people 40 to 59, and to 24 percent among those over age 60.

Liz Weinandy, a staff dietitian at the Ohio State University Medical Center, said that the high rate among 20- to 39-year-olds was troubling.

That period “sets the stage for health issues later in life — heart disease, dementia and so on,” she said. “Also, this is the group that’s having kids, and they’re setting them up for a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits.”

Fast food is generally high in calories, fat and sodium, a combination that increases the risk for cardiovascular and other diseases.

“When we hear about a shark attack, we’re scared and we avoid that beach,” Weinandy said. “But what we really should be afraid of is double cheeseburgers and French fries.”

— Nicholas Bakalar, The New York Times

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