An interesting study has emerged from the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about young people’s dietary habits in the US. What is interesting is not the prevalence of fast food (which is, without surprise, high in the US like in Britain), but rather that it seems to counter the old, oft-mentioned myth that children from poor families eat more fast food than their peers.
The idea is promulgated by everyone from politicians to health specialists and celebrity chefs. It has also given rise to the rhetoric that poorer people don’t have access to good food because of ‘food deserts’ — that is, deprived areas where access to nutritional food is limited.
In fact, as explained here, the opposite is true: kids from poorer families actually eat less fast food as a proportion of their daily caloric intake. So it’s probably wrong to blame fast food for the higher level of childhood obesity among poorer people in the US.
It’s difficult to explain the phenomenon by any one specific factor. But it might be that fast food is popular not necessarily because it’s inexpensive and it’s the only choice for people on limited means, but because, first and foremost, it tastes good. Whatever the income or education level of the parents, it seems that taste is what matters most for kids rather than nutritional value.