Adults cut back fast food, but U.S. kids still eat too much fat

February 22, 2013

A study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that American adults have made a little progress in recent years in cutting back on calories from fast food, but children are still consuming too much fat. French fries, pizza, and similar items accounted for about 11% of U.S. adults’ caloric intake from 2007 to 2010, on average, down from about 13% between 2003 and 2006. Younger adults, African Americans, and those who are already obese consumed the highest amounts of such food, which is often high in fat, salt, and calories.

The CDC found in a separate report that while American children, on average, are consuming fewer calories overall than they used to, the percentage of their calories from artery-clogging saturated fat was still above optimal levels.

The slight decline in fast food consumption among adults reflects a growing trend toward healthier options. Many food and beverage companies have revamped their products or created new, healthier options to account for the shift in consumer tastes. Still, Americans lead the world in calorie consumption. Portion sizes also have increased over the years, coupled with an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, have added up to extra pounds. Complications from obesity include diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and some cancers.

Young African American adults are especially a concern. Those ages 20–39 get more than one-fifth, or 21%, of their calories from fast food versus Caucasians and Hispanics in the same age group who get about 15% from such foods, CDC found. Obese and overweight adults also ate more fast food, it added.

The study also found that:

  • The consumption of calories from fast food “significantly decreased” with age.
  • Fast food consumption was about the same for low-income and higher-income adults.
  • More children are eating more protein, except for African American girls.
  • Carbohydrate consumption is lower among Caucasian boys and girls as well as African American boys.