Trump’s fast food affinity may be leading more Americans to eat unhealthy diets, study suggests

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A new study from Penn State University has found that Republicans were twice as likely as Democrats to eat fast food if they paid attention to media coverage of President Donald Trump


Trump’s fast food affinity may be leading more Americans to eat unhealthy diets, study suggests

  • A researcher analyzed how much attention participants were paying to media coverage of President Trump’s eating habits
  • Those who closely followed headlines about his diet were more likely to view fast food as a good meal option or eat it themselves
  • Republicans were twice as likely as Democrats to have positive attitudes toward fast food if they followed media coverage of Trump’s diet 

President Donald Trump‘s love of fast food may encourage more Americans to consume similar meals, a new study suggests. 

A Penn State University researcher found that those who pay more attention to news stories about Trump’s eating habits were more likely to view fast food as a ‘socially acceptable meal option’. 

They were also more likely to say they’d be eating fast food in the near future.

What’s more, Republicans were twice as likely as Democrats to eat burgers and fries if they followed stories in the media about the commander-in-chief’s diet.  

A new study from Penn State University has found that Republicans were twice as likely as Democrats to eat fast food if they paid attention to media coverage of President Donald Trump’s eating habits. Pictured: Trump presents fast food to be served to the Clemson Tigers football team to celebrate their Championship at the White House, January 2019

In 2018, Trump had his first physical examination as president, during his which his overall health was declared as ‘excellent’. 

However, Dr Jessica Myrick, an associate professor of media studies at Penn State, said she was curious about what effect – if any – his affinity for fast food was having on the general population. 

For the study, published in the journal Appetite, 1,050 Americans completed an online survey in February 2018. 

Dr Myrick, the lead author, analyzed how much attention they paid to media coverage of Trump’s eating habits.

Participants were asked which of these statements such as ‘Given my lifestyle and/or taste preferences, it is likely that I will eat fast food regularly over the next four weeks’ and ‘I am likely to eat fast food regularly over the next month’ described how they felt.    

Dr Myrick found that closely following articles about Trump’s eating habits was a stronger predictor that someone would eat fast food frequently than was any other demographic factor, like race or income. 

‘The results also show that for both Republicans and Democrats, greater attention to media coverage of Trump’s diet was related to more positive attitudes toward fast food,’ she said.

‘However, for Republicans, this relationship was nearly twice as strong, meaning that as attention to media coverage of Trump’s diet increases, Republicans are quicker to report positive attitudes toward fast food than are Democrats.’ 

For people who didn’t identify as either Democratic or a Republican, there was no link between media coverage of Trump’s diet and fast food.

Dr Myrick notes that Trump is not the first US president to have his eating habits covered by the media.

Former President Bill Clinton would often stop for fast food after going on jogs while he was on the campaign trail.

However, after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery in 2004 and having two coronary stents implanted in his heart in 2010, he adopted a vegan diet. 

Meanwhile, the media coverage of former President Barack Obama surrounded the vegetable garden he started at the White House with first lady Michelle Obama.

Dr Myrick says that the advent of digital-leaning newsroom – meaning more people are reading headlines than they were in newspapers – in addition to Trump’s frequent Twitter updates, makes the media coverage surrounding him ‘unique’.  

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