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Why is FAST FOOD so appealing?

The average American spends around $1200 a year on fast food and just $600 on fruit and vegetables. If you’ve ever questioned whether fast food is more appealing to the masses than healthy food, there’s your answer.

But what makes us more likely to reach for a cheeseburger than a stick of celery? Are our eating habits dictated purely by taste or have we been conditioned to favour fast food over something more nutritious?

In 2012 the fast food industry spent $4.6 billion to advertise mostly unhealthy products. That might go some way to explaining our food choices, but does it also mean that changing how healthy food is presented, packaged, and marketed could increase its appeal?

Fast Food Infographic

McDonald’s spends more than $900 million dollars annually advertising its products in the U.S. alone. Subway spends just short of $600 million. KFC, Pizza Hut, and Burger King all spend between $200m and $300m annually to encourage U.S. citizens to consume their products.

Needless to say, advertising plays a huge part in why so many of us eat so much of their food, so often.

But advertising and marketing aside – why do we like fast food so much?

A recent study asked regular consumers of fast food to rate how strongly they agreed or disagreed with statements about why they like it.

The results might surprise you.

92.3% like it because “it’s quick” while 80.1% choose it because “it’s easy to get to”. In fact, just 69.2% of respondents said they like fast food because of “the taste”.

The fact is that the abundance of fast food outlets present in most towns across America and elsewhere makes fast food the easy option – whether or not those consuming it really enjoy it – and eating healthily, a struggle.

And here in the UK…

The Soil Association (who campaign for organic food and farming in the UK) claim many family restaurant chains have designed menus that make healthy eating “almost impossible” for children.

The study found “widespread poor practice” with even the more expensive chains failing to offer fresh or healthy choices on their children’s menus.

But while speed and convenience undoubtedly play a part in fast food’s appeal, colour has been shown to play an important role, too - specifically, red and yellow. They’ve been shown to instigate excitement, energy, confidence, and happiness – and in turn, hunger.

Can changing how healthy food is packaged and promoted make a difference to how appealing we find it? We certainly think so.

Big Red Celery Green Dogs McCrunch Mean n Green