Nutrition Business Journal

Americans eating less fast food, says CDC survey

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a new report explaining that Americans consumed less fast food between 2007 and 2010 than from 2003 to 2006. But the significance of these results is unclear. 

McDonald’s french fries, Wendy’s Frostys and Burger King Whoppers no longer hold as strong of a presence in Americans’ diets.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report explaining that Americans are eating less fast food. The study showed that between 2007 and 2010, on average, 11.3 percent of American adults' caloric intake came from fast food. This percentage is down from 12.8 percent for 2003 to 2006.

The study also found that the group that consumed the most calories from fast food from 2007 to 2010 was adults ages 20 to 39, and those age 60 or older consumed the least amount of fast food calories, at 6 percent.

Are people more health conscious?

However, the significance of these findings is not clear. Bethene Ervin, author of the CDC study, didn’t want to draw any conclusions since the CDC doesn't directly influence eating habits. But she said that the results may indicate that public health messages are hitting home with people.

TODAY show nutrition scientist and editor Madelyn Fernstrom agrees that the decrease in fast food consumption might be attributable to messages about healthy eating. But she also suggests it could be cost-related (more people eating at home than at restaurants) or just because people are becoming more health conscious.

Other experts said that Americans may just be choosing salads or healthy alternatives instead of french fries and hamburgers. It’s not clear from the study if people are now avoiding fast food restaurants.

“It's no longer about where you eat, it's about what you choose when you're there," Keith Ayoob, director of the nutrition clinic at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, told NBCNews.com. "I can't say for sure, but I believe McDonald's is still doing robust business, and if more of that is coming from lower-calorie foods, salads, fresh fruit, etc., then that's terrific.” 

Some fast food companies are trying to cater to these healthy changes. McDonald’s is working at making healthy options and nutrition information more readily available to its customers. In January the company announced that QR codes would go on all packaging to provide nutrition information about your meal.

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