Monday, June 25, 2018

Data Shows Monday: Which States Have the Most Fast Food Joints


We decided to start something fun and new over on the SurveyAnalytics blog! We will feature a "Data Shows" news article each Monday. If it has the words "data shows"  or "survey shows" in the title and is an interesting read, we'll feature it.  We will share a few thoughts on what made the study interesting, what could have rounded out the survey, and any follow-up research ideas that should accompany the study.

The first inaugural "Data Shows" Monday goes to Datafiniti's recently published report on states with the most fast food eateries. With 1 in 4 Americans eating fast food at least 1 time per day, it's no secret that America loves conveniently available food that's quick and instantly satisfying. Datafiniti broke down the top fast food restaurants in the nation. The obvious leading the pack were Subway, McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut. Next, they reviewed the number of fast food locations per 10,000 residents. Breaking up the country regionally, the central and south had 4.4 to 4.5 fast food restaurants per 10,000 residents compared to the West at 3.7, and the East at 2.5.


Of the states that had the most fast food restaurants per 10,000 residents, the top 5 were:

Alabama - 6.3 fast food restaurants per 10,000 residents
Nebraska - 5.4 
West Virginia - 5.3
Oklahoma - 5.3
Tennesse  - 5.2

At the city level, regional data begins to fizzle out when Datafiniti reviews fast food restaurants per capita based on major cities, however, the number of restaurants per capita goes much higher for smaller cities. For their analysis, they only reviewed the top small cities with over 50 fast food restaurants per 10,000 residents which included:

Katy, TX - 62.5 
Naples, FL - 43.9
Humble, TX - 43.7
Myrtle Beach, SC - 40.3
Falls Church, VA - 37.8

So what does this mean? If you love fast food, head to central or southern parts of America. Big or small city, you will find something you like. If fast food isn't your thing, head east or west.

This is an incredibly intriguing study and I applaud Datafiniti for sharing their findings. What would make these results even more compelling is to use the data and run a correlation analysis between other social factors such as income, ethnicity, education, and obesity statistics. How does fast food consumption trend across these factors?

For example: Let’s look at the most obese states in the US. TOP 16 (percentage obese):

Mississippi: 35.2 percent 
West Virginia: 34.3 percent 
Louisiana: 33.2 percent
Arkansas: 33.0 percent
Oklahoma: 32.6 percent 
Alabama: 32.1 percent 
Kentucky: 31.5 percent 
Indiana: 31.4 percent
Iowa: 31.1 percent
Missouri: 30.9 percent
Michigan: 30.8 percent 
Ohio: 29.9 percent 
Texas: 29.7 percent 
Kansas: 29.3 percent 
Wisconsin: 28.8 percent 
Nebraska: 28.8 percent

Now the most fast food per capita. TOP 16 (fast food restaurants per capita):

Alabama 6.3
Nebraska 5.4
West Virginia 5.3
Oklahoma 5.3
Tennessee 5.2
Indiana 5.0
DC 5.0
Georgia 4.9
Missouri 4.9
South Carolina 4.9
Kentucky 4.8
Nevada 4.7
Ohio 4.7
Arkansas 4.7
Kansas 4.7
Iowa 4.7

10/16 states are on both TOP 16 lists. There could be a potential correlation worth analyzing. 

With healthcare and wellness being part of major discussions in our nation, the next steps researchers can do is to take these data points and add social and economic factors to give a true understanding of the impact our fast food landscape may have on our overall health as a nation. We need a more holistic view of what this data means. The next set of research should consider how education, ethnicity, income, and standard of living may factor into the results. Noting the number of fast food restaurants is a great start, but there is more work to be done. The intention should not be to vilify the fast food industry and find who to blame for the obesity epidemic. Rather, it should be a study that everyday citizens and business organizations can use to make better decisions for us all.