You may have heard the popular theory that the poorest or least educated among us are the ones that eat the most fast food, but you would have been misled.
Rodale News reports on a recent study released by the University of California-Davis that found that most fast-food eaters are considered “middle-income” Americans: i.e., those families of four who are living off of incomes of $50,000-$75,000 each year.
In a comment by the study’s lead author J. Paul Leigh, professor of public health sciences at UC–Davis and a specialist in health economics, he noted:
“Low prices, convenience, and free toys target the middle class—especially budget-conscious, hurried parents—very well,” he said, adding that the fast-food industry attracts the middle class by locating restaurants right off freeways in middle-income areas and by offering food with broad appeal. He also found that people who work long hours were more likely to hit the drive-thru…
As an aside, I’m amazed that supporting a family of four on an annual income of $50,000 could possibly still be classified as “middle class” anymore. Really? Who makes these classifications? Have they themselves ever tried to support four people on about $2,000/ month? Is this kind of hand-to-mouth existance what we think of when we think of “middle class”? I met a professor from the University of Denver last fall who was doing a study on bankruptcy and how people recover after filing for a bankruptcy. His results were showing him, in his words, that “most people are just a fender-bender away from complete financial ruin.”
This report shows us that the American “middle class” is overworked, stressed, underpaid, and mal-nourished by fast food in a lifestyle that demands speed and convenience in everything in order just to survive, including our essential task of procuring nourishment. Is this the life of the future we envisioned?