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05 October 2018, 10:12 | Silvia Roy
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.
The report - which drew its findings from information collected from 10,000 adults between 2013 and 2016 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey - found that fast food intake was higher among consumers in middle- and higher-income brackets.
"On any given day in the United States, an estimated 36.6% or approximately 84.8 million adults consume fast food", said Cheryl Fryar, first author of the report and a health statistician at the CDC.
A 2011 study found that people who eat fast food and processed pastries are 51 percent more likely to develop depression, and a 2016 study found fast food contains phthalates, which could lead to reproductive issues such as birth defects.
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"What surprised me was the finding that income was positively associated with more fast food", said Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, an associate professor and director of clinical research at the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who was not involved in the new report.
The data show that the popularity of fast food varies by racial and ethnic group.
Fryer said she and her colleagues chose to look into fast food consumption statistics because this type of fare has been linked with increased intake of calories, fat, and sodium.
The study found that as people got older they tended to eat less junk food. Forty-five percent of adults ages 20 to 39 ate fast food, while only 24 percent of adults over 60 had fast food as a meal or snack.
"That connection or correlation is opposite of what I perhaps would have expected", he said. When asked by researchers, 37 percent of adults said they'd eaten fast food at least once over the past 24 hours. On a typical day, 22.7 percent of Americans get their breakfast from a fast-food outlet.
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'Things like poultry, fish, even leaner cuts of red meat - also picking more water and staying away from sugar-sweetened beverages and diet soda, ' she said.
'And from there, you're establishing good behavior for kids to follow'.
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