In a society where men and women increasingly find themselves living lives on the run, it is essential that they also find themselves finding meals on the run as well. This truth, combined with the generally cheap cost, has undoubtedly led to the popularity of fast food in the United States of America. Without a question, an overconsumption of fast food can be detrimental to one’s health, which is a main reason that health food diets generally advocate avoiding such establishments. However, it may be possible that the United States is entering a period of time characterized by a decrease in fast food consumption.
Statistics show that in 2011 adults in the United States received roughly 11% of their caloric intake from fast food options. This, compared to the 13% from the year 2006, may only seem like a small difference, but Cheryl Fryar, a Nutrition Statistician and one of the lead authors of the study assures that these results are statistically significant.
Currently, around two-thirds of young people in the United States are considered to be overweight or obese. Additionally, roughly 17% of American youths are considered to be obese. While these numbers may be slightly disheartening, the Center for Disease Control found that starting in 2010, children and adolescents in the United States were consuming fewer calories than recorded a decade earlier. This occurrence is the first of its kind in the United States in over 40 years. Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, considers this a major cause for celebration.
Between 1999 and 2010, boys between the ages of 2 and 19 experienced a drop in the average caloric intake from 2,260 calories per day to 2,100, a total drop of 7%. Similarly, the average caloric intake for girls dropped by 4% over the same period of time.
It is difficult to pinpoint a cause for this decline in fast food consumption since many factors could have had influence. One major factor could be the current state of the economy. While food costs are never supposed to rise faster than income, many Americans feel the pressure of the economy forcing them to spend less money eating out and instead eat more food at home. Additionally, Lisa Young, a professor of nutrition at New York University, suggests that many public education messages and programs are finally beginning to affect the actions of many Americans. Some suggest, however, that it is entirely possible that people are still eating at fast food restaurants, but simply ordering healthier options.
While just about everyone considers these improvements a victory over a negative trend in food consumption, the numbers also represent the darkness of the current state of health in America. Americans, on average, still eat fast food every two or three days while diet experts such as Samantha Heller at New York University’s Center for Musculoskeletal Care suggest only eating fast food once a week, if at all. Additionally, the fact that two-thirds of young Americans are overweight is still incredibly unnerving. All things taken into consideration, Americans need to rejoice at the progress made thus far, and use that energy to add to fuel the increase in overall health.