Journal Article

Americans’ Perceptions about Fast Food and How They Associate with Its Consumption and Obesity Risk

Jungwon Min, Lisa Jahns, Hong Xue, Jayanthi Kandiah and Youfa Wang

in Advances in Nutrition

Published on behalf of American Society for Nutrition

Volume 9, issue 5 Published in print September 2018 | ISSN: 2161-8313
Published online July 2018 | e-ISSN: 2156-5376 | DOI:

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We aimed to systematically examine Americans’ perceptions of fast food (FF) and how these perceptions might affect fast food consumption (FFC) and obesity risk. We searched PubMed and Google for studies published in English until February 17, 2017 that reported on Americans’ perceptions (defined as their beliefs, attitudes, and knowledge) regarding FF as well as those on their associations with FFC and obesity risk. Thirteen articles met inclusion criteria. Limited research has been conducted on these topics, and most studies were based on convenience samples. A 2013 nationally representative phone survey of about 2000 subjects showed that one-fifth of Americans thought FF was good for health, whereas two-thirds considered FF not good. Even over two-thirds of weekly FF consumers (47% of the total population) thought FF not good. Americans seem to have limited knowledge of calories in FF. Negative and positive FF perceptions were associated with FFC. Those who consumed less FF seemed more likely to view FF negatively. When Americans valued the convenience and taste of FF and preferred FF restaurants with kid's menus and play areas, they were likely to purchase more FF. Available research indicates neither perceived availability of FF nor Geographical Information System (GIS)-based FF presence in the neighborhood has significant associations with weekly FFC. No studies examined potential links between FF perceptions and obesity risk. Americans’ perceptions of FF and how they might associate with FFC and obesity risk are understudied. Considerable variation was observed in Americans’ perceptions and FFC.

Keywords: fast food; perception; consumption; obesity; United States

Journal Article.  8472 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medicine and Health ; Dietetics and Nutrition ; Biochemistry ; Food Microbiology ; Gut Microbiology

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