Fast Food Has Gotten LESS Healthy Over the Past 30 Years

If you grew up in the 1980’s, you might remember the thrill of getting a Happy Meal every once in a while. Going out for fast-food was a treat back then, not a regular occurrence. But the frequency in which Americans eat fast-food isn’t the only thing that has changed in the past 30 or so years. Though many headlines tell us that fast food is getting healthier as time goes on, others say that this already-unhealthy food has gotten even worse. [1]

Earlier this year, researchers at Tufts University and Boston University looked at 10 popular fast-food joints, including McDonald’s, KFC, and Dairy Queen. They found that the entrees, the sides, and the desserts have exploded in size, in calorie count, and in sodium over the past 3 decades. There is more to choose from, but those newer options have become increasingly less nutritious.

Read: Why You Should Avoid Fast-Food at All Costs

Minus a sugary beverage, the average fast-food entree still contains an average of 770 calories. Compared to 30 years ago, portion sizes are nearly 20% bigger, and entrees contain about 90 more calories. Desserts, in particular, have become bigger belt-busters and artery-cloggers, as about 200 calories have been added to the sweet treats. [1] [2]

Nearly 14% of the daily recommended value of sodium has been added to fast-food sandwiches, and fries now contain about 12% more salt than they did in the days of big hair and heavy metal music. [2]

It goes without saying that these increases have greatly contributed to the obesity epidemic.

Lead researcher Megan McCrory, a research associate professor at Boston University, said: [2]

“Despite the vast number of choices offered at fast-food restaurants, some of which are healthier than others, the calories, portion sizes, and sodium content overall have worsened [increased] over time and remain high.”

Portion sizes, as well, have ballooned in the past 3 decades. Per decade, entree sizes rose by 13 grams and about 30 calories, while desserts increased by 24 grams and about 62 calories – at least. Portion sizes for sides remained about the same, but the number of calories rose by about 14 calories per decade.

Americans’ appetites for greasy fast-food grub has gone through the food, as well. About 37% of Americans hit up a fast-food joint on any given day. Fast food made up 11% of all Americans’ daily calories between 2007 and 2010 – nearly triple what it was between 1977 and 1978 when it was just 4%. [1] [2]

The researchers say posting calorie counts on menus helps buyers make more healthful choices, but menu offerings need to shrink.

Read: CDC – More Than 1 in 3 Americans Eat Fast-Food Every Day

McCrory said:

“We need to find better ways to help people consume fewer calories and sodium at fast-food restaurants. The requirement that chain restaurants display calories on their menus is a start. We would like to see more changes, such as restaurants offering smaller portions at … proportional prices.”

The study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


[1] CBS News Boston

[2] Daily Mail

Featured image source: YouTube/Buzzfeed

CDC: More Than 1 in 3 Americans Eat Fast-Food Every Day

It’s likely that most Americans are well-versed when it comes to how unhealthy fast-food is, yet a survey published October 3 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that more than 1 in 3 Americans eat fast food on any given day. [1]

The survey, compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics, shows that between 2013 and 2016, more than 36% – more than 1 in 3 – hit up a fast-food joint every day.

The findings show that the older the individual, the less fast-food they ate. Forty-five percent of adults ages 20 to 39 ate fast-food, compared to just 24% of adults over 60.

Men were more likely to eat fast-food than women, and non-Hispanic black adults consumed the most fast-food (42%), compared to whites (38%), Hispanics (35.5%), and Asian-Americans (31%). [2]

Income was found to play a significant role in how much fast-food a person ate. While fast-food is notoriously cheap, people with higher incomes were more likely to eat fast-food than those at lower incomes, the survey shows.

  • About 32% of lower-income Americans ate fast-food daily
  • More than 36% of middle-income Americans chowed down on fast-food on a given day
  • 42% of higher-income folks chowed down on fast-food on a given day

Read: Why You Should Avoid Fast-Food at All Costs

Several fast food chains have been trying to offer healthier menu items. For example, McDonald’s earlier this year pledged to make Kids’ Meals healthier by reducing portions, as well as salt and fat. In 2016, the fast food chain announced several changes to its menu offerings aimed at appealing to health-conscious customers, including adding kale and spinach to the iceberg lettuce in its salads (though the salads ended up being higher in calories than a Big Mac).

Still, it’s likely that fast-food restaurants will never be able to shake their reputation for being unhealthy. Despite the changes many chains have made, there is very little nutrition to be found in a fast-food meal.

Liz Weinandy, a registered dietitian at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, said:

“Most fast-food is not good for our bodies. The more of it we eat, the more likely we are to be overweight or obese and have increased risk for several diseases like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome when talking to patients.”

It seems that despite the many warnings about the health woes fast-food can cause, Americans aren’t taking them very seriously.

Weinandy said:

“When we see news clips of a shark swimming near a beach, it scares us into not going near the beach.”

Read: Guess How Many Calories Are in a Typical Fast-Food Meal

But, she said, “what we should be scared of is double cheeseburgers, French fries, and large amounts of sugary beverages.”

Weinandy added:

“There is no reason to completely avoid fast-food, but it shouldn’t be consumed regularly. You may want to ask yourself how often you’re currently eating it and then cut that number in half if it’s more than once a week.”


[1] USA Today

[2] HealthDay

McDonald’s Self-Service Screens Contain an Unsavory “Ingredient”

Have you ever used a touchscreen at McDonald’s to order your food? You’re reading an article on Natural Society, so of course not! But if you have, this bit of news may interest you. That touchscreen you ordered from probably has some poop on it, at least according to a recent investigation by MetroEvery single self-service kiosk the news outlet tested was found to be contaminated with some feces.

Perhaps you should start carrying some alcohol hand-sanitizer, eh?

The news site asked researchers at London Metropolitan University to test the touchscreens at 8 McDonald’s restaurants around the U.K., including 6 in London and 2 in Birmingham. Yeah, the tests were done in London, but that doesn’t take away from the possibility touchscreens are equally contaminated here in the U.S.

  • Each kiosk screen contained coliforms, the bacteria found in feces.
  • One screen was found to contain staphylococcus, a bacteria that can cause blood poisoning and toxic shock syndrome (TSS).
  • The same screen containing staphylococcus also harbored Listeria bacteria, which can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.
Petri dishes of bacteria found in various McDonald’s in London and Birmingham (Picture: Susannah Ireland for

You might want to think twice about licking that French fry grease off of your fingers.

Related Read: Could Your Dirty Shower Head Really Cause Lung Infections?

Dr. Paul Matawele, a senior lecturer in microbiology at London Metropolitan University, said:

“We were all surprised how much gut and fecal bacteria there was on the touchscreen machines. These cause the kind of infections that people pick up in hospitals.”

Matawele and his colleagues were especially troubled to discover the presence of staph on the touchscreens. [2]

Matawele said:

“Seeing staphylococcus on these machines is worrying because it is so contagious. It starts around people’s noses, if they touch their nose with their fingers and then transfer it to the touchscreen someone else will get it, and if they have an open cut which it gets into, then it can be dangerous.”

He said his team was also shocked to find Listeria, which he called “another rare bacterium,” lingering on the screens.

McDonald’s, Oxford Street, near Tottenham Court Road station (Picture: Susannah Ireland for

But Dr. Philip Tierno, a clinical professor of Microbiology and Pathology at NYU School of Medicine, who wasn’t involved in the research, said he was not at all surprised by the findings. [1]

Read: New “Nightmare” Bacteria has Been Popping up Around the U.S.

“We are bathed, as a society, in human feces. Wherever numerous people touch the same surface over time, they deposit their germ passport, which can include bacteria from 3 body places – respiratory, skin, and fecal sources.”

He added:

“This (Metro) report shows that people do not properly pay attention to hand hygiene – especially hand washing. Eighty percent of all infectious diseases are transmitted by direct and indirect contact. Direct like coughing, sneezing, talking, kissing someone; and indirect like touching a dirty fomite (doorknob, phone, computer, elevator button, touchscreen, etc.) and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth or a break in the skin.”

For its part, McDonald’s says that its touchscreens are cleaned frequently throughout the day and that all of their restaurants “provide facilities for customers to wash their hands before eating.” But how many times have you been in a public restroom that lacked hand soap? [2]

Even if you don’t lay a finger on a McDonald’s touchscreen, there’s a good chance you’re still coming into contact with some potentially dangerous bugs, simply because they are all around you. Staph and E. coli have been found in large quantities on phones, keyboards, and tablets. In fact, your smartphone is likely germier than a toilet seat. [3]

Bon appetit.



[1] MarketWatch

[2] Newsweek

[3] Business Insider