Think fast. ThatБs what a lot of people tend to do when they think of food. And it doesnБt seem to matter how big their paychecks are. Jay Zagorsky, PhD, a research scientist at The Ohio State UniversityБs Center for Human Resource Research, and Patricia Smith, PhD, of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, looked at the eating habits of 8,000 people. They analyzed the data and concluded that eating fast food is not limited to people with low incomes. The researchers used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), which has surveyed the same group of randomly selected Americans since 1979. The Ohio StateБs Center for Human Resource Research oversees he NLSY. БPeople talk about the Бfreshman 15Б [the belief that a college student will put on 15 pounds during their freshmen year],Б Zagorsky told Healthline. БThey assume that, but studies have shown itБs not correct. Б
From there, it was a hop, skip, and a jump to assumptions about fast food, notably the belief that people with low incomes eat more of it. БItБs not true,Б said Zagorsky. In the study, Zagorsky and Smith used data from people who were asked about their fast food consumption in the 2008, 2010, and 2012 surveys. Participants, who were in their 40s and 50s at the time of the surveys, were asked how many times in the past seven days they had eaten Бfood from a fast-food restaurant such as McDonaldБs, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, or Taco Bell. Б The results were compared with the participantsБ answers to questions about their wealth and income. While there were some slight differences in how wealth and income correlated to fast-food consumption, Zagorsky said the results were similar. During any one of the weeks recorded in the study, about 79 percent of respondents reported eating fast food at least once, and 23 percent ate three or more fast-food meals.
БPretty much everybody eats fast food,Б he concluded. БThere was not much difference by income. Б БIf you became richer or poorer, it didnБt change how much fast food you ate,Б Zagorsky added. He said that unlike other studies, this one distinguished between wealth and income. (Wealth is defined as oneБs assets, such as a home and car. Income is what one earns. ) In the cohort Zagorsky examined Б people in their 40s and 50s Б the results were a bit surprising. БThis is a period of high income and high wealth. They are acquiring assets and in their peak earning years,Б he said. БThey were more likely to eat fast food. Б Zagorsky attributed the finding to the fact many participants eat fast food because itБs convenient. In fact, one hallmark of the people who ate fast food frequently was their lack of time. He acknowledged one of the weaknesses of the study was that researchers did not know what people ordered. Was it a chicken salad or a triple bacon cheeseburger? Or just a cup of coffee? Since Zagorsky found that income was not linked to fast food consumption, what does that say about attempts to curb the number of fast food establishments in lower income neighborhoods, as did in 2008? Michael Bader, an urban sociologist at American University who studies how fast food affects neighborhoods, told the in 2015, БMy research has found banning fast food misses the root cause of unhealthy communities. Б ThatБs a point of view likely to resonate with John Douillard, DC, CAP. Douillard is not your typical nutritionist. In fact, heБs not a nutritionist at all, but rather a crusader against processed food. The author of БEat Wheat,Б Douillard believes the problem with fast food is not who is eating it, but its very existence. He says that in the process of creating food that is shelf-stable, society has removed all the healthful elements from it.
For example: It takes time for the microbial organisms in the gut to do their jobs. БBut everyoneБs in a hurry. They want drive-by food. They watch their cell phone while theyБre eating. They sit on [uncomfortable] metal chairs,Б he said in an interview with Healthline. БWhen people have high stress, they crave comfort tastes. Б БWe are addicted, and we can get it on demand,Б he added. According to Douillard, fast food is comfort food. БIn addition to sweet, salty, and sour, the comfort tastes include bitter, astringent, and pungent, which are usually missing,Б he said. Responding to the current crusade against wheat, Douillard scoffs, БThe problem is what we do to wheat. Б БAncient humans consumed 100 grams of fiber [per day]. We eat 20,Б he said. In essence, he said, being American is a risk factor for heart disease. Everyone knows that only poor people eat fast food. And, not surprisingly, everyone is wrong. The fact is thereБs almost no correlation between fast food consumption and income, according to a study posted online by that will appear in the November 2017 issue of the journal. Its authors, Jay L. Zakorsky, a research scientist at Ohio StateБs, and of the Department of Social Sciences at U. Michigan-Dearborn, in their 40s and 50s how many times theyБd eaten food from places such as McDonaldБs, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut or Taco Bell in one week. What they found might shock a culinary snob: There was almost no correlation between how much people earned and how much fast food they ate. It\’s not mostly poor people eating fast food in America,Б Zagorsky said. БRich people may have more eating options, but that\’s not stopping them from going to places like McDonald\’s or KFC. In fact, though the difference was small among all economic groups, it was the people in the middle-income group who were most likely to belly up to a Big Mac and fries.
As reported in, the researchers found that among those in the lowest 10 percent of income, 80 percent ate fast food at least once a week. Among the top 10 percent of income, the fast-food eaters comprised 75 percent. But it was those in the middle who were at the top: 85 percent of those surveyed in the middle-income group said they ate fast food at least once a week. – In 2015, the examined childrenБs diets and found no correlation between poverty levels and fast food consumption. – In 2015, a from the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton ruled out the idea that food deserts Б or rural areas which lack healthier dining options Б significantly contributed to the eating habits of people across all economic backgrounds. – A 2013 revealed that those earning $75,000 ate more fast food than those earning less than $25,000. – A 2011 conducted at the University of California Davis concluded that Бfast-food dining becomes more common as earnings increase from low to middle incomes, weakening the popular notion that fast food should be blamed for higher rates of obesity among the poor. БThere is a correlation between obesity and lower income, but it cannot be solely attributed to restaurant choice,Б said the studyБs senior author, J. Paul Leigh. БFast-food dining is most popular among the middle class, who are less likely to be obese. Б The bottom line? The Бcommon knowledgeБ that fast food is for people who canБt afford something БslowerБ is being spread by the uncommonly unknowledgeable. YouБre not exactly БslummingБ when you pull up in your Lexus at the drive-thru window and order a chalupa. It turns out youБre in good Б maybe even affluent Б company.