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Gym-Goers and Organic Shoppers Give in to Fast Food Temptations

Scarborough Study Analyzes the Quick Service Restaurant Habits of Health-Conscious Americans
Apr 17, 2012
New York, NY
Market Highlights

A new study from local market consumer research firm Scarborough reveals that Health-Conscious Consumers, defined as American adults who belong to a gym and buy local or organic food, make up nine percent (21M) of the American adult (age 18+) population. Even these Health-Conscious Consumers however, can’t resist the expanding healthy menu options or the convenience of quick service restaurants; 74 percent of these consumers visited a fast food restaurant for lunch in the past 30 days.

Health-Conscious Consumers’ choice of quick service restaurants for lunch in the past 30 days differs from the preferences of the rest of American adults who have had fast food for lunch in the past 30 days:

Top 25 All U.S. Adults, QSR Past 30 Days Top 25 All Health-Conscious Consumers, QSR past 30 days%
McDonald's 43% McDonald's 36%
Subway 29% Subway 31%
Wendy's 22% Wendy's 22%
Burger King 21% Panera Bread 17%
Taco Bell 20% Taco Bell 17%
Chick-fil-A 11% Burger King 16%
Arby's 11% Chick-fil-A 13%
KFC 11% Chipotle 11%
Panera Bread 8% Arby's 10%
Pizza Hut 6% Starbucks 10%
Sonic 6% KFC 8%
Jack in the Box 6% Dairy Queen 6%
Dairy Queen 6% Quizno's 5%
Chipotle 5% Sonic 5%
Starbucks 5% Pizza Hut 5%
Popeyes 4% Jack in the Box 5%
Quizno's 4% Popeyes 4%
Little Caesars 3% Domino's Pizza 3%
Hardee's 3% Hardee's 3%
Domino's Pizza 3%

Dunkin' Donuts

Long John Silver's 3% Jason's Deli 2%
Church's Chicken 3% Qdoba 2%
White Castle 2% Papa John's Pizza 2%
Papa John's Pizza 2% Little Caesars 2%
Dunkin' Donuts 2% Long John Silver's 2%

Health-Conscious Consumers who have had fast food in the past 30 days are more than twice as likely as all American adults who have done the same to dine at Panera Bread for lunch in the past 30 days and eight percent more likely to eat at Subway for lunch in the same time frame. Though they dine more at fast food establishments that have healthy options, more than one-quarter (26 percent) of all Health-Conscious Consumers dined at a fast food restaurant at least ten times in the past 30 days.

“This latest analysis reflects the enormous shift in the quick service restaurants’ initiatives toward healthier menu options and branding,” says Alisa Joseph, vice president of advertiser services for Scarborough parent company, Arbitron. “Fast food companies feel pressure to change their messaging to a more health-conscious tone as they are aware that the average consumer is now more aware of the healthier menu options available. Though price point is still important to their core customers, healthy menu options within that price point will satisfy the customers they have as well as grow their Health-Conscious Consumer segment.”

As you would expect, Health-Conscious Consumers are active.  In the past 12 months, 52 percent of Health-Conscious Consumers who ate fast food for lunch in the past 30 days also attended a professional sports event. They are 86 percent more likely than all American adults to have gone jogging or running, 78 percent more likely to have gone bicycling and 60 percent more likely to have gone swimming. Nearly half (44 percent) have done volunteer work in the past 12 months, 38 percent have visited a casino and 37 percent have attended live theater. The upcoming summer Olympics are another key outreach opportunity as Health-Conscious Consumers who have eaten fast food for lunch in the past 30 days are 37 percent more likely than all American adults to be interested in the Olympics.

Health-Conscious Consumers who dined at a fast food restaurant for lunch in the past 30 days are 13 percent more likely than all other fast food lunch diners to be female (58 percent) and they are 66 percent more likely to have at least a college degree. Sixty-one percent of all Health-Conscious Consumers are married and 41 percent have one or more children under the age of 17 in their household. They are 66 percent more likely than all fast food lunch diners to have an annual household income of $100K or more. More than half (51 percent) of all Health-Conscious Consumers who dined at a fast food restaurant for lunch in the past 30 days hold white collar employment.
The top local markets for Health-Conscious Consumers who have eaten at a quick service restaurant in the past 30 days for lunch are:

DMA % of Adults
Denver, CO 12%
San Diego, CA 11%
Rochester, NY 11%
Baltimore, MD 10%
San Francisco, CA 10%
Portland, OR 9%
Seattle, WA 9%
Colorado Springs, CO 9%
Hartford, CT 9%
Austin, TX 9%
Albany, NY 8%
Greensboro, NC 8%
Boston, MA 8%
Washington, DC 8%
Charlotte, NC 8%
Indianapolis, IN 8%
Milwaukee, WI 8%
Raleigh, NC 8%
Columbus, OH 8%
Minneapolis, MN 8%
Buffalo, NY 8%
Cincinnati, OH 8%
Detroit, MI 8%
Cleveland, OH 7%
Harrisburg, PA 7%
Salt Lake City, UT 7%
Greenville, SC 7%
New Orleans, LA 7%
Dallas, TX 7%
Richmond, VA 7%
Sacramento, CA 7%
Houston, TX 7%
Nashville, TN 7%
Orlando, FL 7%
Chicago, IL 7%
Philadelphia, PA 7%
Spokane, WA 7%
Lexington, KY 7%
Providence, RI 7%
Honolulu, HI 7%
Los Angeles, CA 6%
Louisville, KY 6%
Kansas City, MO 6%
Atlanta, GA 6%
Fort Myers, FL 6%
Syracuse, NY 6%
Green Bay, WI 6%
New York, NY 6%
Las Vegas, NV 6%
Phoenix, AZ 6%
Flint, MI 6%
Toledo, OH 6%
Roanoke, VA 6%
St. Louis, MO 6%
San Antonio, TX 6%
Chattanooga, TN 5%
Pittsburgh, PA 5%
Fresno, CA 5%
Miami, FL 5%
Mobile, AL 5%
Tuscon, AZ 5%
Albuquerque, NM 5%
Norfolk, VA 5%
Memphis, TN 5%
El Paso, TX 5%
Knoxville, TN 5%
Grand Rapids, MI 5%
Des Moines, IA 5%
Tampa, FL 5%
Tulsa, OK 5%
Little Rock, AK 5%
Jacksonville, FL 5%
West Palm Beach, FL 4%
Oklahoma City, OK 4%
Birmingham, AL 4%
Bakersfield, CA 4%
Harlingen, TX 3%

Continue the dialogue with Scarborough over Twitter by reaching out to @ScarboroughInfo using hashtag #FastFood and be sure to visit us on Facebook at

This data is from Scarborough USA+, Release 2 2011. Scarborough measures 210,000 adults aged 18+ annually across a wide variety of media, lifestyle, shopping and demographic categories.

About Scarborough: 

Scarborough (, brings the local market to life like no other company. Our consumer insights reflect the shopping patterns, media usage behaviors across multiple platforms, and the lifestyle trends of American adults. Media professionals, marketers and agencies use Scarborough insights to: create a smarter, more informed marketing mix; conduct market-competitive analyses; plan event sponsorships and partnerships; geo-target prospective consumers; increase product sales, grow customer loyalty and for overall marketing strategy. Scarborough’s core offering of individual local-market studies spanning 120+ markets (including Puerto Rico). 77 local markets are MRC accredited. Other products and services include Analytics (customized research and express analysis) Sports and Hispanic insights and attitudinal data to help our clients address the why behind consumer behavior.  Scarborough surveys more than 210,000 adults annually, and studies more than 2,000 consumer categories. Scarborough has been in business for 40 years and is a joint venture between Arbitron Inc. ( and The Nielsen Company (