These States Have the Most Fast Food Restaurants in America

When you hear about all the unappetizing ingredients in your favorite fast food, it’s enough to make your turn your back forever. And if that doesn’t do it, then the risk of obesity should make you think twice. Despite those facts, fast food is still wildly popular in the United States, and a recent study by Datafiniti reveals which states have the most fast food restaurants in America.

States are ranked on the number of fast food restaurants per 10,000 people, and in the case of ties, we sorted based on higher population. Along the way, we’ll visit two coastal states (pages 7 and 9) and one with some of the best traditional restaurants in the country (page 10).

16. Kansas

The interior of Chick-Fil-A, a day before its opening

The interior of Chick-Fil-A, a day before its opening | Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

  • Fast food restaurants per capita: 4.7
  • Population: 2.90 million

We start our countdown in Kansas, which just starts to show how obsessed with fast food we are. A quarter of Americans eat fast food every day, and that’s easy to do in Kansas, where there are close to five fast-food restaurants for every 10,000 people.

Next: This state is unlike the others.

15. Nevada

A Subway sandwich | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • Fast food restaurants per capita: 4.7
  • Population: 2.99 million

Nevada stands on its own on this list. Every other entry we’ll visit touches at least one other state that has the most fast food restaurants, but not Nevada. Still, it’s nearly 3 million residents have plenty of fast food options.

Next: We see a connection.

14. Arkansas

McDonald's burger and fries

McDonald’s burger and fries | Johnnieshin/iStock/Getty Images

  • Fast food restaurants per capita: 4.7
  • Population: 3.0 million

Eating too many fats and sugars contributes to diabetes, and fast food is loaded with both. That’s why we see a connection between Arkansas’ high number of fast food restaurants and its high rate of diabetes.

Next: There’s more to this state than its well-known agricultural products.

13. Iowa

Burger King Opens First European WHOPPER Bar

Burger King Whopper | Miguel Villagran/Getty Images

  • Fast food restaurants per capita: 4.7
  • Population: 3.14 million

People know Iowa for its corn and hogs, but it’s also one of the states with the most fast food restaurants, including all of the most popular and successful ones. With its 4.7 fast food joints per 10,000 people, Iowa is close to landing in the top 10.

Next: One surprising fact about this state.

12. Ohio

The Wendy’s sign

Wendy’s sign | Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

  • Fast food restaurants per capita: 4.7
  • Population: 11.6 million

Considering it’s home to Wendy’s headquarters, it’s a bit surprising Ohio is just No. 2 on the list of states with the most Wendy’s. But when you throw in all the McDonald’s, Burger Kings, Chick-fil-As, and Subways, the Buckeye State makes the list of states with the most fast food restaurants per capita with 4.7.

Next: Not the kind of attention this state is looking for.

11. Kentucky

New Consumer Survey Ranks McDonald's Hamburgers, KFC Chicken Worst Tasting

KFC chicken tenders sit on a table | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • Fast food restaurants per capita: 4.8
  • Population: 4.45 million

The Bluegrass State gets a ton of attention every year thanks to the Kentucky Derby horse race, but this isn’t the kind of attention it wants. With 4.8 fast food restaurants per capita, Kentucky is close to making the top 10. Considering some fast food items are killers, being in the top 10 for having the most fast food restaurants is not a good thing.

Next: Let’s go coastal

10. South Carolina

Three Wendy's Frosties

Wendy’s Frosty | John Shearer/Getty Images

  • Fast food restaurants per capita: 4.9
  • Population: 5.02 million

South Carolina is the first of just two coastal cities on our list, and we’ll get to the other one in a minute. Unfortunately, the high number of fast food restaurants is just one of many things that could be considered negatives in the state. It’s one of the most polluted states, it bends over backward catering to the gun industry, and it really makes life tough for teachers, too.

Next: Convenience is king

9. Missouri

Subway | Scott Olson/Getty Images

  • Fast food restaurants per capita: 4.9
  • Population: 6.11 million

One of the main draws to eating fast food is the convenience. Apparently, folks in Missouri love that convenience. It has a ton of fast food chains and is firmly in the top 10 among the states with the most fast food restaurants.

Next: Heading seaside once again

8. Georgia

New York City Board Of Health Approves Bloomberg's Over Sized Sugary Drink Ban

McDonald’s | Mario Tama/Getty Images

  • Fast food restaurants per capita: 4.9
  • Population: 10.4 million

We discussed coastal locations when we visited Georgia’s neighbor, South Carolina, a minute ago. Georgia has something in common with its compadre besides picturesque Atlantic Ocean views — tons of fast food restaurants. When you do the math, Georgia has more than 5,000 fast food joints for its 10.4 million residents.

Next: Why eat fast food when fine dining is so accessible?

7. Washington, D.C.

Taco Bell Launches Its New Cantina Restaurant Experience

Taco Bell | Scott Olson/Getty Images

  • Fast food restaurants per capita: 5.0
  • Population: 693,972

OK, so Washington, D.C., isn’t a state, but it’s still one of the places with the most fast food restaurants in America. What we want to know is, why? D.C. has some of the best restaurants anywhere in the United States, so settling for fast food is just cheating yourself out of a great meal.

Next: A state near the top of the list in at least two areas.

6. Indiana

Pizza Hut storefront

Pizza Hut | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

  • Fast food restaurants per capita: 5.0
  • Population: 6.66 million

Indiana has some of the best places to live, and it also happens to be one of the best places to find fast food restaurants. Its per capita number translates to more than 3,300 fast food joints statewide. Even Fishers, Ind., one of those great places to live, is a hotbed.

Next: We can see why three cities from this state make another dubious list.

5. Tennessee

Arby's restaurant

Arby’s | Tim Boyle/Staff/Getty Images

  • Fast food restaurants per capita: 5.2
  • Population: 6.71 million

Tennessee has three cities on another dubious list — cities where you’re destined for obesity. The prevalence of fast food might have something to do with it. The state has close to 3,500 fast food joints, meaning its 6.71 million residents are never far away from a quick and convenient meal.

Next: This must be a coincidence.

4. West Virginia

McDonald's Brings Back The McRib Sandwich

McDonald’s McRib | David Paul Morris/Getty Images

  • Fast food restaurants per capita: 5.3
  • Population: 1.18 million

West Virginia is one of the states with the most people on food stamps, it’s among the unhappiest states, and it it’s one of the states with the most fast food restaurants in America. We’re sure it’s all a coincidence, but it is odd the state is near the bottom of the barrel in so many ways.

Next: We’re guessing two regions are fast food hotspots.

3. Oklahoma

Dairy Queen Retail Fast Food Location. DQ i

Dairy Queen | jetcityimage/iStock/Getty Images

  • Fast food restaurants per capita: 5.3
  • Population: 3.93 million

Most of Oklahoma’s population lives in a few counties in the central and northeastern part of the state. We’re guessing those two regions are hotbeds for the nearly 2,100 fast food restaurants in the Sooner State.

Next: There are other reasons we know this state besides fast food.

2. Nebraska

A customer carries a tray with his Chipotle food order

Chipotle burrito bowls | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • Fast food restaurants per capita: 5.4
  • Population: 1.92 million

People know about Nebraska’s college football and maybe even the couple of cities that will pay you to live there, but they probably don’t know about all the fast food places. With 5.4 per 10,000 residents, Nebraska is No. 2 on our list of the states with the most fast food restaurants.

Next: Residents don’t have long to enjoy their fast food.

1. Alabama

Chick-fil-A Embattled In Controversy Over Anti-Gay Marriage Remarks

Chick-fil-A | Alex Wong/Getty Images

  • Fast food restaurants per capita: 6.3
  • Population: 4.87 million

If you live in Alabama, you live in the state with the most fast food restaurants per capita. And if you live there and you love fast food, you’d better get it now because you also live in a state with one of the shortest life expectancies in the United States.

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