THURSDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Fast food fare from
restaurants such as McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and Pizza Hut
accounted for more than 11 percent of the calories in American
adults' daily diets in recent years, federal health officials
Yet that's lower than it was from 2003 to 2006, when fast food
contributed an average of nearly 13 percent of daily calories to
the American diet, said report author Cheryl Fryar, of the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Whether this is an ongoing trend isn't clear, Fryar added.
Several factors were examined, to see how they related to how many
daily calories U.S. adults got from fast food between 2007 and
"We could see a difference by age group," Fryar noted. "As you get older, the percentage of calories from fast food declines."
One expert sees this as a positive trend.
"The good news from this study is that as we get older, perhaps we do get wiser and eat less fast food," said Samantha Heller, a clinical nutritionist at the NYU Center for Musculoskeletal Care in New York City.
"However, a take-home message is that the study suggests that the more fast food you eat, the fatter you get," Heller said.
"This is worrisome," she added, "because obesity in one's 20s can increase the risk for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease early in life."
Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors -- including high
blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels and
abdominal fat -- that increase a person's risk for heart disease
In the national survey, people were asked to recall the source
of all the food they'd eaten in the past 24 hours. The response
"restaurant fast food/pizza" was coded as "fast food."
Racial/ethnic differences also surfaced in the results.
"Although there was no difference between non-Hispanic white and Hispanic adults, we did find the percent of calories from fast food was higher among non-Hispanic black adults," Fryar noted.
Also, the more a person weighed, the more fast food they
consumed as a percentage of their diet, Fryar said.
Highlights of the CDC report include the following:
"Fast food is a fact of life, so we need to find ways we can live with it, not die from it," Heller said. "We need to encourage fast-food establishments to have a variety of healthy offerings that are marketed as cool, sexy, fun and delicious."
And, Heller suggested, "it is important for parents to steer
their children away from fast food to begin with. Having more
family meals helps kids eat healthier and they are less likely to
The findings are published in the February issue of the CDC's
National Center for Health Statistics
To find out more about healthy diet, visit the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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