Fast food rush fueling America’s obesity issue

According to the CDC, an estimated 42.5% of U.S. adults age 20 and over have obesity, including 9.0% with severe obesity, and another 31.1% who are overweight.

Between 1960 and 1962, the CDC indicated that an estimated 31.5% of U.S. adults aged 20 and over were overweight, but only 13.4% were obese and only 0.9% with severe obesity.

In over 50 years time, what has changed to see obesity rates increasing?

One major detail that has changed in 50 years time is the amount of fast food restaurants in our country.

In the 1960s, chain restaurants such as McDonald’s only had 225 stores, KFC only had around 200 stores, and many other fast food chains were just opening.

Today, there are more than 660,755 restaurants reported in Spring 2018, and that was just in the United States.

Almost 14,000 are McDonald’s, about 4,000 are KFCs and about 7,200 are Burger Kings.

Fast food restaurants have become popular in our current lifestyles. It is convenient to just stop at a drive-thru right after work.

However, the prevalence of fast food restaurants are not the only thing that has changed in the last 50 years.

In families, more often both parents are working compared to just one, which means there is less time reserved for food preparation, making fast food a quick substitution for a homemade meal.

Children have more indoor activities, such as video games and technology than they did decades ago. Furthermore, with inflation outpacing wage increases, many low-income families may struggle to afford the ingredients to make healthy meals.

There are still great disparities with race, education and income in obesity rates for children and adults.

Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be obese and are disproportionately categorized as low-income, according to the CDC report.

Often, these individuals do not live in close proximity to grocery stores, making it harder to access fresh fruit and vegetables and put them on the table as often.

Also, families are often in a lower income bracket due to not having a higher education that could increase their earning potential. Therefore, they are more likely to become overweight or obese over time.

Adhering to healthier eating habits, spending more time outside, cooking homemade meals, and budgeting so healthy food can be purchased rather than cheaper fast food is a challenge worth undertaking.

Jessica Sprankle


Mount Aloysius College


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