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Disparities in Adult Fast-Food Consumption in the U.S. by Race and Ethnicity, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2017–2018

      Introduction

      This study provides the most recent estimates for fast-food consumption in the U.S., overall and by race/ethnicity and age.

      Methods

      Data from adults (aged ≥20 years, N=3,560) in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2017–2018, were used to identify the (1) percentage of adults consuming fast food, (2) estimated mean percentage of calories consumed from fast food, and (3) estimated mean total calories consumed from fast food on a typical day. Intake was measured by in-person, 24-hour dietary recall. Analysis was conducted in 2020.

      Results

      During 2017–2018, fast food was consumed by 36.5% of adults on a typical day, accounting for 13.8% of daily calories, an average of 309 kcal/day. More non-Hispanic Black adults consumed fast food (42.6%), consumed the largest percentage of daily calories from fast food (17.4%), and consumed the greatest number of daily calories from fast food (381 kcal/day) than adults of other racial/ethnic groups. Young non-Hispanic Black adults had the highest level of fast-food consumption, and this was significantly higher than that among Mexican Americans: percentage consuming fast food (53.5% vs 42.5%, p=0.02) and percentage of calories from fast food (24.1% vs 16.8%, p=0.03). Young non-Hispanic Black adults consumed the highest total fast-food calories, which were significantly higher than that among non-Hispanic Asian young adults (526 kcal vs 371 kcal, p=0.04). No significant differences in the study outcomes were observed by race/ethnicity and age compared with non-Hispanic White adults of the same group.

      Conclusions

      Fast-food consumption among adults in the U.S. is high, particularly among young non-Hispanic Black adults.
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