Know Your FACTS

Excessive consumption of fast food is linked to poor diet and weight outcomes among children and teens,[i] and consumption of fast food by children and teens has increased over the past decade.[ii] On a given day, one-third of children and teens eat fast food, and on those days they consume 126 and 310 additional calories, including more sugary drinks, compared to days they do not eat fast food.[iii]

Limiting fast-food marketing to youth is a key public health strategy to address poor diet among young people. Fast-food restaurants have responded to public health concerns by introducing healthier menu items, including kids’ meal sides, and removing soda from kids’ meal menus. Some restaurants have also pledged to advertise only healthier items directly to children.

Fast Food FACTS 2021 analyzed advertising spending, TV advertising exposure, and targeted advertising for fast food to children, teens, and Black and Hispanic youth. The findings show that:

  • Fast-food advertising spending increased from 2012 to 2019;
  • Youth exposure to TV ads declined, but at a lower rate than reductions in TV viewing times;
  • Many restaurants continued to disproportionately target advertising to Hispanic and Black youth; and
  • Restaurants did not actively promote healthier menu items.

Fast Food FACTS Report
Executive Summary
    Appendix Tables
    Ranking Tables
    Restaurant Results

Social Media Supplement


[i] Powell LM, Nguyen BT (2013). Fast-food and full-service restaurant consumption among children and adolescents: Effect on energy, beverage, and nutrient intake. JAMA Pediatrics, 167(1), 14-20.

[ii] Fryar CD, Carroll MD, Ahluwalia N, & Ogden CL (2020). NCHS data brief 2020.

[iii] Powell, Nguyen (2013).

[iv] Fryar et al. (2020).

[v] American Heart Association (2014). Obesity doesn’t affect all children equally.

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