People who eat several fast-food meals a week are significantly heavier than those who don't eat fast food very often, according to a new study released Monday.
Each additional fast-food meal packs on pounds, so someone who consumes one fast-food meal a week is on average 1½ pounds heavier than someone who eats no fast food, says Kelley Borradaile, an obesity researcher at Temple University in Philadelphia. She presented her research at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society.
"These results largely confirm commonly held perceptions about the relationship between fast food consumption and body weight," she says.
Borradaile and colleagues analyzed national survey data on about 4,600 adults who reported their height and weight and eating habits in 2006.
Respondents said they purchase about five meals outside of their home a week, either take-out or dining out. Other research shows a similar trend. About 252 meals per person were purchased away from home in 2007, according to NPD Group, a leading market research firm.
The Temple study found fast-food places are the top choices for breakfast and lunch; casual dining restaurants and fast-food are top picks for dinner.
Among the findings reported Monday:
•The weight of people who consumed three to six fast-food meals a week was significantly greater than those who consumed no fast food or ate one to two such meals a week.
•Every additional fast food meal during the week was associated with a 1½ pound higher body weight. "We don't know if this is a direct cause-effect relationship," Borradaile says. "There may be other factors at play here, including sedentary lifestyles of people who tend to eat fast food."
•About 50% of respondents say they would be more likely to order healthful items if they were offered as part of a value/combo meal, and 41% would like to have nutritional information on menus. "These data reveal some important clues about what factors may help people make healthier choices at restaurants," researcher Gary Foster says.
Source : By Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY