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.”

Sources:

[1] USA Today

[2] HealthDay

Study: Eating Too Much Fried Food May Shorten Your Lifespan

You, dear readers, are intelligent people. It’s unlikely anyone has to tell you that fried food is unhealthy. Nobody bites into a deep-fried Oreo thinking it’s going to nourish their body. But if you’re like me, and deep-fried anything is hard to resist, there is something you should know. Eating too many of these fried foods … well, it may shorten your life.

That’s according to a recent study published in the BMJ. It lays out the worst of the worst when it comes to fried foods and goes into detail about how fried foods affect your health.

Dr. Wei Bao, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa College of Public Health and a co-author of the study, said:

“People know fried food may have adverse health outcomes, but there is very little scientific evidence to demonstrate what the long-term adverse outcomes are for eating fried foods. In general, we found that fried food consumption is associated with overall mortality.”

A bucket of fried chicken today, a casket tomorrow. Just kidding. It’s not that dire. But, still, you should keep reading.

For the study, Bao and colleagues looked at about 2 decades worth of data on nearly 107,000 older women in the United States, ages 50-79. All of the women were enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative study. As part of that research, the women completed detailed questionnaires about their health and dietary habits in the 1990’s. The researchers tracked the women’s health until 2017, during which time more than 31,500 participants died.

Some of the Findings

  • Women who reported eating at least 1 serving of fried food per day were about 8% more likely to die early, compared to women who didn’t eat any.
  • Those who ate fried food at least once a day also had an 8% higher chance of dying specifically from cardiovascular disease.
  • Participants who ate 1 or more servings of fried chicken per day had a 13% greater risk of death from any cause and a 12% higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease. [2]
  • Women who consumed 1 or more servings of fried fish or shellfish per day had a 7% increased risk of death from any cause and a 13% higher risk of heart-related death.

Although previous studies have linked fried food consumption to cancer, Bao’s research found that fried food consumption did not appear to increase the risk of the disease. [1]

He said:

“We know diet is important for cancer prevention or cancer survival, but not all of the dietary components [seem to be equally important].”

The Worst Fried Offenders and Why (Maybe) They’re so Bad

So, which fried foods might kill you the fastest? Fried chicken and fried fish were found to increase your risk of going to an early grave or dying specifically from heart disease, according to the study. That could be because people simply tend to eat more fried chicken and fish than other types of fried foods, or because of the differences in how the 2 are prepared.

Bao gave an example of how restaurants tend to reuse oil when they cook fried foods like chicken, which may increase the number of harmful byproducts transferred to the food. Moreover, meats tend to be fried more deeply than, say, tortilla chips or cheese sticks.

Bao said: [2]

“Overall, we found that total fried food consumption is related to higher risk of all-cause death, and also death from cardiovascular disease.”

The team wasn’t able to examine the health effects of French fries, though the crispy spuds have been linked to cancer and higher mortality risk in previous studies. [1]

The study accounted for factors like medical history, demographics, smoking, drinking habits, and overall diet quality, which adds weight to the findings. However, because the study was observational in nature, it can’t prove cause-and-effect. There may be other factors at play.

Say, for example, you order country fried steak. Yummy, right? Yes, but red meat is a known carcinogen, so that could be one of the “other factors” involved in the increased health risks the study found.

As well, the fact that meat tends to be fried more deeply than other fried foods may explain a lot. Many people like their fried meat cooked to a crispy brown color, but overcooking food releases a substance called acrylamide, which the World Health Organization (WHO) considers a “probable human carcinogen.” For this reason, experts recommend cooking foods to a golden color, rather than a brown one.

Additionally, the researchers found that women who ate a lot of fried foods had other health problems that could have a negative effect on the heart. It’s not clear if the women’s fried food consumption played a role in those problems, or if those problems already existed and increased their risk even further. [2]

Other Key Findings

  • 1/3 of participants who ate 1 or more fried meals per week were obese
  • 44% of the participants consumed more than 1 fried food per day
  • More than 1/2 of the participants achieved less than the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week
  • About 40% of the women were former smokers

And though the study looked specifically at women, men, too, should take the findings seriously.

Bao said: [1]

“We didn’t have any reason why the effects may differ by age, or even by gender. I would suspect the association may be similar among younger women or even young men.”

Don’t worry too much if you indulge in fried foods on occasion. Just don’t make a habit of eating them, and make the effort to lead a healthy lifestyle when you’re not licking grease off your fingers.

Sources:

[1] Time

[2] HealthDay

Junk Food Intake Linked to Increased Cancer Risk in Recent Study

Junk food, for all of its yumminess, is a gateway to many health problems, often increasing your risk of heart disease, metabolic disease, and even cancer. In fact, researchers have developed a new nutritional labeling system that ties a low-quality diet with increased risks of several different types of cancer, and it could help prevent you from developing a form of the disease.

Source: CNN

The Nutri-Score logo is based on the British Food Standard Agency’s Nutrient Profiling System, which calculates the nutritional quality of each food and drink based on a 100-gram content measure for energy (calories), sugar, saturated fatty acids, sodium, fiber, and proteins. The system has been used in the United Kingdom (U.K) to regulate food advertising to children for more than a decade.

The new Nutri-Score system calculates food quality using the same method as the British standard. However, it differs in that it uses both colors (from dark green to dark orange) and grades (from A for the “highest nutritional quality” to E for the “lowest nutritional quality”) in order to simplify things for shoppers. A quick glance at the logo lets buyers know whether they are purchasing a high-quality or low-quality nutritional product.

A study published on September 18 in the journal PLOS One looked at the scientific evidence of the value of the British Food Standards Agency system as an underlying basis for the Nutri-Score system.

Read: Starving Cancer to Death by Removing 1 Food – Refined Sugar

Researchers used the Nutri-Score system to examine the diets of 471,495 adults from 10 European countries. Participants self-reported the foods and beverages they commonly consumed using the British Nutrient Profiling System, which calculated a Nutri-Score for their usual diet.

Those whose total score reflected a lower-nutritional-quality diet were found to have a higher risk of total cancer. Among those with the highest junk food scores, cancer rates were found to be 81.4 cases per 10,000-person years. Specifically, the rate for men was 115.9 and the rate was 66.6 for women.

By comparison, those with the lowest junk food scores had cancer rates of 69.5 cases per 10,000-person years. Among men, the rate was 89.6 for men and 61.1 for women.

(Person years is an estimate of time for all the participants in the study that allows researchers to measure cancer risk regardless of how long a person remained in the study due to death or other factors.)

Higher rates of colorectal, respiratory tract (lips, mouth, tongue, nose, throat, vocal cords and part of the esophagus and windpipe), and stomach cancers were found among those who consumed the most junk food. Separately, men showed a higher risk of lung cancer, and women showed a higher risk of liver and postmenopausal breast cancers.

It is highly probable that the findings reflect more than just diet quality, as people who eat junk food are more likely to be overweight and to lead a sedentary lifestyle, both of which are risk factors for cancer.

Read: How Eating Certain Beans Cuts the Risk of These 5 Cancers

Study authors Mélanie Deschasaux and Mathilde Touvier, members of the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Team in the Epidemiology and Statistics Research Centre at Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, wrote in an e-mail:

“These analyses were adjusted for other individual characteristics that could ‘confound’ the nutrition-cancer association such as physical activity and BMI but also educational level, smoking status, alcohol use, or family history of cancer.”

The pair said the adjusted result allowed their team to conclude that “a lower inherent nutritional quality of the food consumed was associated to a higher risk of developing cancer.”

They added:

“Overall, this adds support to the relevance of using [the British nutritional system] as an underlying nutrient profiling system for the simplified nutrition label Nutri-Score.”

It’s important to note that the study is somewhat limited in that it relied on self-reporting, which is known to be less-than-accurate. I’d also like to note that the system used for analyzing food quality didn’t focus on micro nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, which is certainly not ideal.

10-Point Cancer-Prevention Blueprint

In May, the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna released a 10-point “blueprint to beat cancer” that can cut the odds of a person developing cancer by as much as 40%. [2]

  • 1. Maintain a healthy weight.
  • 2. Cut down on fast foods and processed foods that are high in fat, starches, or sugars. Lay off prepared foods, snacks, bakery items, desserts, and sweets.
  • 3. Consume no more than 3 portions (350-500 grams) of red meat such as beef, lamb, and pork per week. Avoid processed meats.
  • 4. Drink mostly water and unsweetened beverages, and avoid fruit juice.
  • 5. Don’t drink alcohol.
  • 6. Avoid dietary supplements – get your nutritional needs through diet alone.
  • 7. Mothers should breastfeed whenever possible, as breastfeeding has numerous benefits for both mom and baby.
  • 8. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, continue to follow the above recommendations after speaking with a health professional.
  • 9. Spend less time sitting in front of a screen and be more physically active.
  • 10. Eat 5 portions (400 grams) of fruit and vegetables a day, particularly leafy greens like broccoli, okra, eggplant, and root vegetables, as well as whole grains, beans, and lentils. Aim for a variety of brightly colored produce.

Sources:

[1] CNN

[2] Daily Mail

CNN