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Highlights of the CDC report include the following:

  • From 2007-2010, American adults got 11.3 percent of their daily calories from fast food.
  • For those aged 20 to 39, fast food accounted for more than 15 percent of daily calories.
  • For those 60 and older, fast food accounted for about 6 percent of daily calories.
  • Young adult whites and Hispanics (aged 20 to 39) got about 15 percent of their daily calories from fast food.
  • Blacks aged 20 to 39 got about 21 percent of their daily calories from fast food.
  • Among weight groups, obese young adults got the most daily calories from fast food -- at 18 percent.
  • Income was not a factor in how many daily calories came from fast food, except among those aged 20 to 39, where fast-food calories dropped as income rose.

"Fast food is a fact of life, so we need to find ways we can live with it, not die from it," Heller said. "We need to encourage fast-food establishments to have a variety of healthy offerings that are marketed as cool, sexy, fun and delicious."

And, Heller suggested, "it is important for parents to steer their children away from fast food to begin with. Having more family meals helps kids eat healthier and they are less likely to be overweight."

The findings are published in the February issue of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief.

More information

To find out more about healthy diet, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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