Fast food in lean times

Why do we eat fast food? In a six-month study, researchers put that question to 605 people who frequently do (at least once a week). Perhaps unsurprisingly, most reported eating fast food because it’s… fast. But some of the other answers are even more telling.

Here are the top reasons people said they eat fast food meals, via WebMD:

They’re quick: 92.3 %

They’re easy to get to: 80.1 %

I like the taste of fast food: 69.2 %

They’re inexpensive: 63.6 %

I’m too busy to cook: 53.2 %

It’s a “treat” for myself: 50.1 %

I don’t like to prepare foods myself: 44.3 %

My friends/family like them: 41.8 %

It is a way of socializing with friends and family: 33.1 %

They have many nutritious foods to offer: 20.6 %

They’re fun and entertaining: 11.7 %

Interesting to note that nearly two-thirds of respondents said they eat fast food because it’s cheap. It’s been pointed out countless times that obesity rates are tied to income levels: a recent Statistics Canada report suggested that kids living in poor neighbourhoods are more prone to obesity than those in middle income areas.

And with the economy tanking, fast food’s looking pretty good. Last month, both Burger King and McDonald’s reported stronger than expected sales, CBC reports. Analysts have attributed it to belt-tightening consumers, who are trying to save some cash.

The study, from a team at the University of Minnesota, appears in the December issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.