Fast Food Meals Bump up Your BMI by .03 Each Time: Avoid that Burger

Feb 03, 2014 08:23 AM EST | By Staff Writer

Everyone knows that fast food is less than good for you. Greasy burgers and fries can help pack on the pounds. Yet researchers have found that fast food joints may be worse for us than we thought.  It turns out that for every extra fast-food transaction in a country, the average BMI goes up by .03.

In the last few decades, there's been a substantial increase in the mean body weight in wealthy countries. These changes were mostly due to dramatic transformations in people's dietary patterns--such as the rise of fast food. In fact, previous studies have shown that there are significant associations between the density of fast food restaurants and obesity in a neighborhood.

In this latest research, scientists found that a person's BMI increases by .03 every time they eat fast food. Not only that, but between 1999 and 2008, the number of fast food meals eaten each year increased from 27 to 33 per person. This, in turn, shows how the obesity epidemic may be spreading.

The sharpest increases for fast food consumption were in Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand. The lowest increases, in contrast, were countries with more stringent market regulation, such as Italy, the Netherlands, Greece and Belgium.

A person with a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered to be a healthy weight. That's compared to a person between 25 to 29.9, a BMI that's considered to be overweight. A person with 30 or over is classified as obese.

"The take-home message is that, although free-market policies are not to be demonized, it appears quite clear that in order to fight the obesity epidemic, a stronger role of government intervention is necessary," said Roberto De Vogli, one of the researchers, in an interview with NBC News.

The findings reveal how crucial it is to potentially introduce polices that can help curtail the rising consumption of fast food.

The findings were published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

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