Poor children and families in America do not necessarily consume more Big Macs, Whoppers and french fries than anybody else.
This is what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows in its survey of more than 5,000 people, debunking the popular notion that lower-income groups are bigger consumers of restaurant fast food.
According to the study, children in the poorest segment—those from families earning less than 130 percent of the poverty level—get only 11.5 percent of their calories from fast food, compared with around 13 percent for richer kids.
In fact, children who are 2 years old to 11 years old from higher-income families (those with working- and middle-class parents) get 9.1 percent of their average calorie percentage from fast food, which is higher than the 8 percent of the calorie share in poor kids.
Teenagers born to the poorest parents also depend on fast food the least.
"This analysis found no significant differences in fast food consumption by poverty status or weight status among children and adolescents," concluded the study held in 2011 and 2012.
From 1994 to 2006, caloric intake from fast food rose from 10 percent to 13 percent among children who were 2 years old to 18 years old. Today, about a quarter of all children in the United States obtain 25 percent of their calories from fast food, while 12 percent get more than 40 percent of their calories from burgers, fries and chicken nuggets.
These numbers help discredit the belief that fast food consumption is prevalent only among the poor. Evidence shows that income affects the relative nutritional value of food that people consume, such as in the case of food stamp recipients eating substantially less healthy food, but proof that the difference lies in fast food consumption seems to be missing.
Other studies echo the CDC’s findings. A Gallup poll in 2013 found that people who make over $75,000 a year consumed fast food more frequently than other groups, while those making less than $25,000 annually are among the least likely to do so.
A U.C. Davis researcher also found a few years ago that the rich consume more fast food than the poor, no longer surprising given that "low prices, convenience and free toys target the middle class—especially budget-conscious, hurried parents."
Photo: Mike Mozart | Flickr