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DAVIS, Calif. -- Despite popular belief, poorer people do not frequent fast-food restaurants the most, according to a study conducted by the University of California, Davis.
In fact, the research found that consumers visit fast-food restaurants more often as their incomes increase. However, the visits increase only as household incomes rise to $60,000. Beyond $60,000, fast-food visits decline in favor of trips to full-service, sit-down dining establishments with higher prices.
U.C. Davis researchers J. Paul Leigh and DaeHwan Kim analyzed data from the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by individuals, and the corresponding Diet and Health Knowledge Survey. The data included responses from 5,000 Americans who were asked about dining habits, income, race, gender, age and education.
The U.C. Davis research revealed a typical fast-food customer earns a lower-middle income, is head of the household and budget conscious. On the other hand, the data revealed poor people cannot easily afford fast-food "value" meals.
The California research team additionally concluded that the availability of fast food is likely a cause of obesity among poor-income groups, but it's not the only cause."There is a correlation between obesity and lower income, but it cannot be solely attributed to restaurant choice, Leigh, a professor of public health sciences at U.C. Davis, told Time magazine's Healthland website. "Fast-food dining is most popular among the middle class, who are less likely to be obese."