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Keywords:

  • Fast food;
  • increased caloric intake;
  • obesity;
  • weight gain

Summary

Consumption of fast food, which have high energy densities and glycemic loads, and expose customers to excessive portion sizes, may be greatly contributing to and escalating the rates of overweight and obesity in the USA. Whether an association exists between fast food consumption and weight gain is unclear. Sixteen studies (six cross sectional, seven prospective cohort, three experimental) meeting methodological and relevance criteria were selected for inclusion in this systematic review. While more research needs to be conducted specifically in regard to effects of fast food consumption among subpopulations such as children and adolescents, sufficient evidence exists for public health recommendations to limit fast food consumption and facilitate healthier menu selection. As the fast food industry continues to increase both domestically and abroad, the scientific findings and corresponding public health implications of the association between fast food consumption and weight are critical.