Health Digest Survey: How Often Do People Eat Fast Food?

When it comes to the modern American diet, we live in a sort of food paradox. In many ways, food is more diverse than ever. We can choose from an abundance of fast food chains, restaurants, and quick-grab snack options that span a large range of options. But at the same time, the majority of Americans choose to eat foods that are unequivocally homogenous. According to The University of Alabama at Birmingham, the typical American consumes foods that are processed, overloaded with sodium and sugar, and deprived of essentials like fruits and vegetables. 

But there are some potential health consequences to this pattern of eating, with MedicalNewsToday noting that there are negative short-term and long-term consequences of eating too much fast food. For example, eating fast food can contribute to inflammation, which may negatively affect the immune system. In the long run, overeating fast food can adversely impact a wide range of bodily functions that range from digestion to heart health.

While fast food is only around a hundred years old — and despite the negative health consequences — it is so convenient and effective that fast food has become a regular part of the American diet (per Cleveland Clinic). 

You might wonder how frequently people consume fast food. To find out, Health Digest conducted a survey asking people how often they eat fast food. The results may surprise you.

Do you eat fast food this many days per week?

The results of a Health Digest Poll of 610 people found that 26 people, or 4.26%, eat fast food every day. Sixty-four people, or 10.49% of respondents, say they consume fast food 5-6 times per week. Ninety-seven people, or 15.90%, say they eat fast food 3-4 times per week. At this point, you might wonder if more people eat fast food only a few times per week, or not at all. According to the Health Digest Poll, 112 people, or 18.36%, say they never eat fast food. The overwhelmingly popular answer selected by 311 people, or 50.98% of respondents, was that they eat fast food 1-2 times per week. 

By some measures, eating fast food more than one time each week can contribute to a greater risk of obesity (via The Washington Post). And when you compare the risk of death from coronary heart disease between those who never eat fast food to those who eat it just once per week, the fast food consumer has a 20% greater risk (via ScienceDaily). For those who eat fast food four times or more per week, that risk jumps to around 80%. But not all fast food is created equal. Healthline notes that there are "healthy" fast food options available at select chains. For example, you might replace a fried meat option with a grilled one.