Among those whose family income was less than or equal to 130% of the federal poverty line (which was set at $11,770 for a single person or $24,250 for a family of four in 2016), 31.7% ate fast food on a typical day. The CDC used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to collect their results. The overall percentage of adults who consumed fast food decreased with age, increased with income, and was higher among non-Hispanic black persons compared with other race and Hispanic-origin groups. The team also noticed a difference between men and women: 37.9 percent of men consumed fast food but only 35.4 percent of women did.
Adults aged between 20 and 39 were the most likely group to consume fast food, with nearly half (45 percent) admitting they eat junk food. More surprisingly, the study debunked the idea that fast food is generally eaten by people from lower economic and social backgrounds.
Additional reporting provided by Newsy affiliate CNN. "Fast food has been associated with poor diet and increased risk of obesity". The data doesn't say that those same people eat fast food every day, but each day of the year, almost 37% of American adults are consuming fast food.
Among those who had eaten fast food, 43.7% did so during lunch, 42% during dinner, 22.7% during breakfast and 22.6% as snacks, according to the report.
Weinandy said while it's not realistic to tell people not to eat fast food, she would like to see healthier options.
Fast food is associated with all types of health problems.
The percentage of adults who said they consumed fast food rose with family income level, according to the report.
'So by exposing their children to fast food early on, they're getting kids into unhealthy patterns from a young age, ' she said.
'We know that people who are overweight or obese are more likely to be eating fast foods, but people really listen to their doctors, ' Weinandy said. "So all of those are driving purchases of fast food", Harris said.
This year, McDonald's announced plans to make kids' Happy Meals healthier, reducing portions and taking steps to cut back on the amount of fat and salt. Reading over the report, she said, "On any given day, over one-third of Americans consume fast food - that's a lot of Big Macs and pizza".
Fast food restaurants have earned a reputation of serving meals and snacks both high in calories and lacking key elements such as fruits and vegetables.
"When we see news clips of a shark swimming near a beach, it scares us into not going near that beach", Weinandy said.