DAVIS, Calif. (CBS Sacramento/AP) – A recent study suggests that a person’s body mass index, or BMI, increases by .03 every time he or she consumes a fast food meal.

Food World News is reporting that researchers based at the University of California, Davis – who worked in collaboration with researchers from Queen’s University in Belfast and the University of Texas’ Health Science Center in Houston – also found that the amount of fast food meals eaten by people throughout the world every year has gone up.

In fact, between 1999 and 2008, the frequency was said to have increased from 27 meals to 33 meals per person.

Data from 25 high-income nations was examined between those years, with special attention paid to fast food consumption rates and body mass indexes, in order for researchers to reach their conclusion.

Those involved in the study made the assertion that increased regulation is necessary to curb the negative effects of fast foods on people.

“The take-home message is that, although free-market policies are not to be demonized, it appears quite clear that in order to fight the obesity epidemic, a stronger role of government intervention is necessary,” Roberto De Vogli, a researcher involved in the study, was quoted as saying on the matter.

Fewer people already seem to be soliciting fast food restaurants, however, as a seeming trend toward fresher, healthier foods is affecting the profits of restaurant chains such as McDonald’s.

They are losing customers, as the world’s biggest hamburger chain struggles to attract diners with its higher-priced sandwiches and new offerings like Mighty Wings.

“We’ve lost some of our customer relevance,” CEO Don Thompson conceded Thursday on a call with analysts.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based company reported disappointing sales for its fourth quarter, as fewer customers visited its established restaurants. Guest counts at those locations fell nearly 2 percent globally and 1.6 percent in the U.S. in 2013, according to a regulatory filing. And McDonald’s expects some challenges to persist this year.

To win back traffic, Thompson said the chain will focus on speedier service, better value offerings and raising “awareness around McDonald’s as a kitchen and a restaurant” that prepares high-quality food. It’s expanding prep tables and plans to beef up staff during peak hours for better execution. It is also bringing in a new U.S. marketing chief, Deborah Wahl, formerly with homebuilder PulteGroup and automakers Chrysler and Ford.

The study was published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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