According to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office guide “Fast Food Facts”, fast food is popular because it is convenient, predictable, and fast (MAG, 2008). In the United States, fast foods outlets increased from about 30, 000 in 1970 to 140, 000 in 1980, and fast food sales increased by about 300% during the same period. Recent estimates show that in 2001, there were about 222, 000 fast-food locations in the United States, generating sales of more than $125 billion (Paeratakul et al, 2003). Currently, it is estimated that there are more than 300,000 fast food restaurants in the U.S. (MAG, 2008). One fourth of all Americans eat in a fast food restaurant on a typical day (Welln, 1995). Fast food has become a part of the busy lifestyle not only in America but all over the world. Asians are emerging as the world’s greatest fast food fans with Filipinos, Taiwanese and Malaysians leading the Americans, while two thirds of HongKongers frequent a take away outlet at least once a week (ACNielsen OnlineConsumer Survey, 2004).
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Between 40 to 55 percent of the calories come in fast food meals come from saturated fats which raises blood cholesterol levels (Welln, 1995). Nutrition experts point out fast food is often high in calories, sodium, fat and cholesterol (Spano and Lipsman, 2004). One of the major health hazards of consuming high fat foods is that it increases the risk for coronary heart disease and stroke by increasing blood cholesterol levels. People who consume fast foods rich in fat are also at high risk for cancers of the breast and colon.
According to a new poll (2003), three quarters of U.S. adults are aware that fast food is not good for them and this attitude is fairly uniform across different gender, age and other demographic groups (Gallup, 2003). Gallup Polls show that nearly all Americans indulge in fast food consumption at least once in a while and men are more likely than women to eat fast food on a frequent basis and younger adults are more likely to do so than older Americans (2003). A fast food mean consisting of one burger, quarter pound cheeseburger, large fries and 16 oz. soda (McDonald’s) contains about 2000-2700 calories with 51 g fat, 95 g cholesterol, and 1450 g. sodium (MAG, 2008). Pizza, sausages, fried chicken, biscuits, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob are other popular fast food items. Fast-food chains have noticed that consumers are more health-conscious, and as a result many chains are adding healthier choices to their menus such as Arby’s Light Roast Chicken Sandwich 276 calories and Burger King’s Chunky Chicken Salad 142 calories (MAG, 2008).
ACNielsen Online Consumer Survey, 2004.
Gallup, Horace George (2003). The Gallup Poll. Rowman and Littlefield publishers.
Office of the Minnessota Attorney General (MAG) (2008). Fast Food Facts. Web.
Paeratakul, S.; Ferdinand, D.; Champagne, C. Ryan, D. and Bray, G. (2003). Fast food consumption and dietary intake profiles – Fast Food. Nutrition Research Newsletter. Web.
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Spano, J. Andrew and Lipsman, Joshua (2004). Life in the Fast Lane – Nutrition & Fast Food. Nutritional Nuggets. Web.