Slightly more men than women - nearly 38%, versus about 35% - reported eating fast food over the past day.
The survey assesses the health of adults and children in the USA and tracks changes over time, looking at who eats it (age, income, gender) and how they eat it (where and when). The overall percentage of adults who consumed fast food decreased with age, increased with income, and was higher among non-Hispanic black persons compared with other race and Hispanic-origin groups. Men tended to eat more fast food than women, Fryar's group said.
"Other studies that have looked at 24-hour dietary recall like this have found a similar thing: that about a third of kids on any given day eat fast food", Harris said.
Additional reporting provided by Newsy affiliate CNN.
The CDC noted in its statement that fast food has been associated with a variety of problems, including elevated caloric intake and poor diet quality.
Between 2013 and 2016, 36.6% of American adults said they ate fast food in the past 24 hours, according to interviews conducted through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Among men and women who consumed fast food, a higher percentage of men ate it for lunch, while a higher percentage of women ate it as a snack. Black men consumed the most fast food, with almost 42 percent stating that they had eaten fast food in the past 24 hours.
Weinandy said while it's not realistic to tell people not to eat fast food, she would like to see healthier options.
Fast food has been linked to many health issues beyond weight gain.
"There is no reason to completely avoid fast food, but it shouldn't be consumed regularly", she said. And after we turn 60, only 24.1 percent of us rely on fast food for at least one of our daily meals or snacks. We do know that parents take their children, they say, because it's convenient, it's a good value, and their kids like the food.
"These findings remind us that fast food companies have figured out a way to conveniently fit into our daily routine, despite their [products'] negative health implications", Boehmer said. That's because it "has been associated with increased intake of calories, fat and sodium", the CDC team said.
"We know for children, on days that they consume fast food, they eat about 120 more calories that day".
"When we see news clips of a shark swimming near a beach, it scares us into not going near that beach", Weinandy said.
Find out more about healthy eating at the American Heart Association.
She adds that it's also up to primary care physicians to talk their patients about the dangers of eating too much fast food.