There’s a lot of stigma about eating at fast food restaurants – it’s unhealthy, it’s fattening, it’s bad for the environment – the list goes on and on. In many cases, this bad reputation is more than merited; yet, there are still some important misconceptions about fast food, including who they’re really hurting the most.
Are Middle-Class Families More Likely to Choose Fast Food?
Many people believe that fast-food dining, especially the drive-thru variety, is primarily eaten by low-income families. Newly published findings, however, suggest otherwise.  In fact, these findings have shown that it's actually middle-class Americans who are the greatest consumers of quick, cheap, and greasy fast food. Using data sets collected from 5,000 US citizens, researchers at UC Davis were able to compare factors such as household income, gender, race, and education with regards to meal choices. In many ways, the group’s findings were fairly predictable. For example, as household income increased, so too did the frequency of visits to full table service sit-down restaurants. Changes in rate of fast food consumption, on the other hand, were more surprising. In stark contrast to their original expectations, fast food intake actually increased alongside household income by up to 60 thousand dollars per year. Once families had crossed this income mark, average fast food consumption rates began to decline.
It would appear that the financial savings home-cooked meals offer is reason enough for many lower-income families to avoid eating out altogether. For middle-class families, the convenience of a quick, low-hassle meal seems to hold more appeal. By avoiding cooking their own meals at home, many people who choose fast-food options are at a greater risk for experiencing a decline in health, something that could eventually lead to financial stress. This is why eating fresh, mostly raw organic foods is crucially important for supporting health on all fronts!
Tips for Eating Healthy
Regardless of busy schedules or budgetary considerations, there's really no good reason to regularly consume fast food. Here are some tips to work around time constraints while reducing the incidence of driving through a fast food joint:
- Plan Meals in Advance. Use your downtime during the evenings or weekends to organize a weekly meal plan. Find recipes that use fresh, whole, raw food ingredients as this will lower cost and increase nutrient value.
- Have Snacks on Hand. Often, a slight hunger pang can initiate the desire to grab something quick and easy (food wise). So, the next time you go to the store, pick up a few hunger-fighting snack foods that need very little preparation. Almonds, walnuts, fresh fruit, raw cheese – basically anything that you and your family enjoy.
- Exercise. Having a physical fitness regime will not only lower uncontrolled hunger by reducing the main hunger hormone (ghrelin), it will also reinforce a desire to stay healthy. After a fitness routine, you feel healthy and fit and don't want to undo all that hard work. Exercise, therefore, may create a mental state of health, one that will motivate you toward eating healthy and skipping unhealthy foods and behaviors.
What do you do when you find yourself wanting to grab something quick? Let us know in the comments!
- Kim D, Leigh JP. Are meals at full-service and fast-food restaurants “normal” or “inferior”? Population Health Management. 2011 December;14(6):307-15. doi: 10.1089/pop.2010.0071.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.