The Journal of the American Dietetic Association just published a study that answered my question, “Why Eat at Fast-Food Restaurants: Reported Reasons among Frequent Consumers.”
According to the study, the main reasons people eat fast food:
- It’s Fast: 92 percent
- Easy to Find/Get: 80 percent.
- Tastes Good: 69 percent
- Cheap: 63 percent.
Fast, easy, cheap. These are the defining terms for the relationship with our food for nearly one in four adults and children daily, and at least three times a week per person.
More study results after the jump.
Only 20 percent of the respondents felt the food was “nutritious.” Thus, the majority knowingly make a poor nutrition choice, valuing “quick” and “convenient” over their own health.
As far as being “cheap,” this post by Chef Kurt Michael Friese shows how he took and beat the KFC meal deal challenge, making the same meal items with real ingredients, for less money. I bet it tasted better, too!
The study concluded that, with the tie between these food choices and our current obesity epidemic, that the best hope for changing eating habits would be to make healthy choices just as fast and convenient, or to get the fast food chains to make healthier items.
I would have to agree, that is the realistic approach to turn fast, easy and cheap into fast, easy, cheap AND healthy. But, I am not sure it can be done, or that it would succeed. Call me Quixotic, let me keep tilting windmills here, but what needs to change isn’t the fast food menu, it’s our relationship with food.
Fast, easy and cheap may work for a one-night-stand, if that’s what you’re into, but it’s not going to work for a healthy, sustainable relationship. Once we make a real committment, the other changes will follow.