Fast food is the term given to food that can be prepared and served very quickly. While any meal with low preparation time can be considered to be fast food, typically the term refers to food sold in a restaurant or store with preheated or precooked ingredients, and served to the customer in a packaged form for take-out/take-away.
Fast food restaurants are similar to the traditional ethnic eatery. They are small and labor intensive, and they offer low-wage, non-union, and contingent groups. They operate in immigrant neighborhoods and they target ethnic groups. Fast food restaurants hire cultural managers (who represent the neighborhood) and rely on ethnic networks to steer immigrant workers into the establishment.
Fast-food restaurants are geographically associated with predominately black and low-income neighborhoods. Predominantly black neighborhoods (i.e., 80% black) have one additional fast-food restaurant per square mile compared with predominantly white neighbohoods (i.e., 80% white). More convenient access likely leads to the increased consumption of fast food in these populations may help to explain the increased prevalence of obesity among black and low-income populations.
In 2009, preschoolers saw 21 percent more ads for McDonald's and 9 percent more for Burger King than in 2007, the researchers said. Preschoolers now watch three fast-food ads per day on average, and children ages 6 to 11 see three-and-a-half on average, they said.
Every day, nearly one-third of U.S. children aged 4 to 19 eat fast food, which likely packs on about six extra pounds per child per year and increases the risk of obesity, a study of 6,212 youngsters found.
The findings suggest that fast-food consumption has increased fivefold among children since 1970, Ludwig said.
Children's current levels of fast-food consumption probably are even higher because of an increase in the number of fast-food restaurants and in fast-food marketing since the late 1990s, Ludwig said.
The highest levels of fast-food consumption were found in youngsters with higher household income levels, boys, older children, blacks and children living in the South. The lowest levels were found in youngsters living in the West, rural areas, Hispanics and those aged 4 to 8, but more than 20 percent of youngsters in each of those groups still reported eating fast food on any given day.
Americans spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software or new cars. Every month more than 90 percent of American children eat at McDonald’s; the average American eats three hamburgers and four orders of french fries every week.
Frequency of fast food restaurant use (FFFRU) was positively associated with intake of total energy, percent energy from fat, daily servings of soft drinks, cheeseburgers, french fries and pizza, and was inversely associated with daily servings of fruit, vegetables and milk. FFFRU was positively associated with student employment, television viewing, home availability of unhealthy foods, and perceived barriers to healthy eating, and was inversely associated with students' own and perceived maternal and peer concerns about healthy eating. FFFRU was not associated with overweight status.
Those who visited fast-food restaurants more than twice a week (87 people) gained on average an extra 4.5kg (9.9lbs) and had a two-fold greater increase in insulin resistance compared to those who went less than once a week.
Overall, it was found that white women ate fast food the least, with an average of 1.3 visits to restaurants per week.
Other ethnic groups averaged two visits a week.
Eating at "fast food" restaurants was positively associated with having children, a high fat diet and Body Mass Index (BMI). It was negatively associated with vegetable consumption and physical activity. Proximity of "fast food" restaurants to home or work was not associated with eating at "fast food" restaurants or with BMI. Proximity of "non-fast food" restaurants was not associated with BMI, but was associated with frequency of eating at those restaurants.
There are close to 50,000 fast food chains across the United States, with McDonalds being the largest restaurant chain. In the world, there are more than 500,000 fast food places. Kids between the ages of 6 and 14 eat fast food 157,000,000 times every month. Ninety-six percent of kids in school could recognize an image of Ronald McDonald, the face of McDonalds. The only recognizable figure that ranked higher was Santa Claus. To top it off, Americans spend nearly $100 billion on fast food every year.