April 12, 2007

Sooner than later: Oklahoma City is now the heaviest user of fast foods

Oklahoma City residents are the "heaviest" users of fast foods in America.

CNNmoney.com reports,
While Greenville, North Carolina earned the dubious honor as the No. 1 market for heavy users in 2006, with 59 percent of its fast-food patrons grabbing burgers and fries 12 or more times a month - versus a national average of 42 percent - only Oklahoma City made the top ten list in the years 1999, 2003 and 2006. (Heavy users, usually young men, are defined as those who visit a fast-food restaurant at least 12 times a month.)

Over the past several years, Oklahoma City has consistently been home to more so-called "heavy users" of fast food than any other American city, according to data compiled by Sandelman & Associates, a San Clemente, Calif.-based market research firm that tracks consumer trends for the $537 billion restaurant industry.

"We're always excited to be in the top ten of things, but not this," says Christine Berney, a spokeswoman for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.

Last year, well over half (55 percent) of Oklahoma City fast-food patrons dined in establishments like McDonald's or Wendy's a dozen times or more per month, placing it tied for No. 3 with Memphis and Charleston/Huntington, West Virginia. A similar percentage of Oklahoma City residents earned "heavy user" status in 2003, while in 1999 that figure was 47 percent, still well above the national average of 38 percent at the time.

When ranked by the number of trips, fast-food users in McAllen, Texas, led the nation last year with 25 monthly visits per person, on average - yes, that's almost once every day - but Oklahoma City was right behind with 21. Three other Texas cities - El Paso, San Antonio and Dallas - also made the top ten. None of the leading fast-food gobbling cities is north of the Mason-Dixon line, Sandelman reported.

There's other places where these states lead the nation: in obesity. West Virginia residents are the 3rd fattiest state in the nation. Oklahoma residents are the 13th. Texas is the 11th. North Carolina is 17th and Tennessee is 8th.

Do you think there's a correlation between heaviest fast food usage and heaviest people? I do.

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