love at first bite average virginian not willing to give up fast food

Love at first bite: Average Virginian not willing to give up fast food

(© Steve Cukrov –

Despite a recent study that revealed eating junk food contributes to cognitive decline, many Americans continue to eat fast food.

Overconsumption of processed foods and lack of exercise can lead to a lower life expectancy, yet the average Virginian is willing to give up three years of life to keep eating fast food.

According to, 3,222 people in a survey called “Live Fried, Die Young?” revealed that one in five believe a burrito has the greatest health benefits. Sixty percent would give up alcohol before they gave up fast food. The average person said they last did aerobic exercise three months ago.

Americans are willing to make sacrifices to continue to eat fast food, and Virginians are not an exception. Fifty-one percent of Virginians surveyed admitted they ignore studies that warn of the risks regarding fast food.

Residents of Hawaii, Montana and North Dakota were also willing to forgo 12 years of their lives to eat unhealthy food. In Alaska, Colorado, Maine and Mississippi, however, residents on average would forgo “just” two years of life to eat fast food.

An interactive map shows the number of years residents of each state are prepared to forgo in order to continue eating fast food.

“It may seem like an impossible task to change up your lifestyle and dietary habits, however, once you begin making healthier substitutions and choices in one or two areas, it can also help you learn more about the nutritional information and components of different food sources,” Stacie Detmer of said in a press release. “Although it’s less-than-likely that you’ll be able to completely change your habits overnight, learning more about this kind of information can help you make healthier choices overall, potentially adding years onto your life if managed effectively.”

A study by the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development found that American communities with a higher volume of fast-food restaurants have a shorter life expectancy. Research from The University of Michigan discovered that eating a hotdog costs you 36 minutes of your life, and a chicken wing can take 3 minutes and 30 seconds of your life.

The good news from the University of Michigan’s research, however, is that it’s also possible to add years onto your life by making more nutritious dietary choices and implementing healthier lifestyle habits. Your life can be prolonged by 26 minutes if you snack on a handful of nuts and seeds, and a serving of salmon can add 16 minutes. Yet, survey results find that many Americans prefer the hotdog.

“Live Fried, Die Young?” also revealed that more than one in four, or 27 percent of Americans, believe that moderate consumption of fast food has health benefits. Burritos and tacos are believed to have the greatest health benefits by 20 percent of those surveyed, 8 percent believe burgers and fries are healthy, and 8 percent thought a bucket of fried chicken wings had the most health benefits. A foot-long sandwich has the most health benefits according to 45 percent.


Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.