Fast Food Junkies Aren’t Predominantly Poor, Most Come From the Middle Class

Man At Fast Food Drive Thru

OK, for the thousandth time: Eating fast food is not good for you. There is no real redeeming value to the mass-processed food besides that it’s quick and cheap to buy—and because of that most people derisively associate it with lower-class people.

But that’s not true, says recent research from Ohio State University that appeared in the journal Economics & Human Biology. Pulling data on about 8,000 people from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, scientists looked at those who were queried on how much fast food they ate in the last seven days in 2008, 2010, and 2012 surveys, which they compared to responses to questions about their income and wealth.

They found that 79% ate greasy fare at least once in any of the weeks investigated, and 23% ate three or more fast food meals during that time. And 80% of people in the lowest 10% of income ate a fast food meal at least once in the study period compared to 85% of folks who were near the middle of income, around 40% to 50% of people in the U.S. And 75% of the richest 10% copped to visiting a fast food joint at least once in the weeks looked at.

“It’s not mostly poor people eating fast food in America,” said study co-author Jay Zagorsky, a research scientist at Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research. “Rich people may have more eating options, but that’s not stopping them from going to places like McDonald’s or KFC. This study helps reject the myth that poor people eat more fast food than others and may need special protection,” he said. “If government wants to get involved in regulating nutrition and food choices, it should be based on facts.”

How about just making your own goal, no matter your income, and staying away from fast food places as much as possible? Shoot for going once every three months if you have to, and, if you do, check out our fast food survival guide to get the healthiest eats the next time you have to indulge.

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