Updated May 30, 2015

Fast Food Statistics: 23 Shocking Facts and Habits

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How many of us eat fast food weekly? How much do we spend and how many fast food restaurants are in America alone? Read on for 23 fascinating statistics.

© Christian Cable (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Grabbing lunch or dinner at a fast food restaurant can save you time and money, which is always a plus if you don't have a lot of either to spare. Americans' love of quick, inexpensive meals has lead to the U.S. being dubbed the "fast food nation." The popularity of fast food seems to grow with each passing year, not just here at home but around the world.

To understand just how big the industry is, CreditDonkey spent some time researching fast food consumption in the U.S. Using data collected from multiple sources, we were able to gather some statistics on the industry that were eye-opening to say the least. Whether you're a die-hard fan or you only try it occasionally, here are 23 facts that everyone who eats fast food should know.

FAST FACTS ABOUT FAST FOOD

Fast food restaurants are just about everywhere these days, and it's hard to go very far without running into at least one of them. If you're wondering just how large the industry is, take a look at some of the data we found on the number of fast food restaurants and how much money they're bringing in.

1. How many fast food restaurants are there in the U.S.?
There are approximately 152,000 fast food restaurants located across the United States. More than 3.7 million people are employed by the fast food industry nationwide.

2. How many are there worldwide?
Fast food isn't just an American thing; there are approximately 826,000 fast food joints located in places near and far around the globe. Nearly 13 million people work in fast food positions worldwide.

3. How much revenue do fast food restaurants generate in America?
It's estimated that in the U.S., fast food residents rake in somewhere in the neighborhood of $208 billion a year. Revenues have increased by about 1.2% between 2010 and 2015.

4. What's the global industry worth?
Annual revenue for fast food restaurants around the world tops $550 billion. The industry expanded by 3.5% between 2009 and 2014.

5. How much does the average American spend on fast food annually?
The typical American spends about $1,200 on fast food annually. That breaks down to $100 a month and roughly $12.50 spent per meal.

6. How much does the average fast food worker make per hour?
The federal minimum wage rate is $7.25 an hour, and the average hourly rate for a fast food employee is $7.75.

FAST FOOD EATING HABITS IN THE U.S.

Some people like to eat fast food more than others. If you're wondering how you compare to the rest of the country, take a look at just how frequently Americans are getting their fast food fix and where their favorite places to eat are.

7. What percentage of Americans eat fast food every day?
Approximately 3% of Americans admit to eating at fast food restaurants at least once a day. That's about 9.5 million people who chow down on quick meals.

8. How many eat it each week?
Around 28% of Americans say they grab fast food at least once a week. Sixteen percent are hitting their favorite restaurants several times weekly.

9. How many eat it just once a month?
33% say they only dine on fast food once or twice a month. About 15% say they try it just a few times a year.

10. What percentage of Americans avoid fast food altogether?
Only a very small percentage of Americans, about 4%, say they never include fast food as part of their diet.

11. Do men or women eat more fast food?
Men are more likely to choose fast food than the fairer sex, but only by a slim margin. Around 53% of men go for fast food once a week compared to just 42% of women.

12. What age group consumes the most fast food?
Young people are most likely to eat fast food, and 57% of Americans aged 18 to 29 say they do so at least once a week. Thirty-three percent indulge once or twice a month.

13. Does household income influence who eats fast food?
Part of fast food's appeal lies in the fact that it's cheap. Surprisingly, though, people who earn more tend to eat it the most. Among people making more than $75,000 annually, 51% say they eat fast food once a week versus 39% of those who earn less than $20,000 a year.

14. Which fast food chain is the most popular?
Although it's seen sales decline slightly in recent years, McDonald's is still the number one fast food chain in the U.S. The company brought in $27.4 billion in revenue in 2014.

15. How many Big Macs are sold each year?
McDonald's estimates that it sells about 550 million Big Macs each year in the U.S. That breaks down to one every 17 seconds.

16. What's the top-selling fast food chicken restaurant?
Despite heavy competition from KFC, Chik-Fil-A reigns supreme as the number one fast food chicken eatery in the U.S. In 2013, the company's annual sales topped $5 billion, compared to $4.2 billion for KFC.

FAST FOOD AND YOUR HEALTH

Fast food isn't always the healthiest choice, and if you eat it on a pretty regular basis, your body may be feeling the effects. Numerous studies have been done on the nutritional content and health impact of eating fast food, and what we found may cause you to reconsider before you chow down on another burger.

17. What percentage of Americans believe fast food isn't good for you?
Despite the fact that it can taste pretty good, most Americans don't believe fast food is all that healthy. About 76% of people in the U.S. agree that fast food isn't good for you.

18. How does the number of fast food restaurants influence obesity rates?
The more fast food restaurants a country has, the more likely its residents are to be obese. The U.S., for example, has 7.52 Subway restaurants per 100,000 people and obesity rates of 31% for males and 23% for females. In Japan, where Subway restaurants are far less common, the obesity rates are 2.9% and 6.4% respectively.

19. What percentage of daily calories are consumed in a fast food meal?
On average, 11.3% of adults' daily caloric intake comes from eating fast food. The mean amount of calories in a typical fast food meal is 836.

20. How much fat does a typical fast food meal contain?
On average, a typical fast food meal consisting of a burger, fries and soda contains 47 grams of fat. That's nearly two-thirds of the recommended daily intake for someone who's on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.

21. Which fast food meal has the most calories?
Fast food is notoriously high on calories but one meal packs in more than the rest. The Triple Whopper meal from Burger King, complete with soda and fries, has 2,100 calories - not to mention 104 grams of fat and 2,270 milligrams of sodium.

22. Does eating fast food increase the risk of diabetes?
If you're worried about developing diabetes, cutting back on the fast food can help. Research shows that women who eat fast food twice or more each week are anywhere from 40 to 70% more likely to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

23. Can it shorten your life span?
Because of its high sodium and fat content, eating certain fast foods may be dangerous to your heart health. In one study, the risk of dying from heart disease increased by 20% for people who eat fast food once a week and nearly 80% for those who eat it four times a week or more.

FINAL WORD

Based on the data we found, it doesn't look like the fast food industry will be slowing down any time soon. Even though it may be friendly to your wallet, keeping the potential health risks of eating fast food in mind can help you gauge its true cost.

Sources and References:

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