Fast food and take-away food consumption are associated with different lifestyle characteristics


K. van der Horst, ETH Zurich, Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED), Consumer Behavior Universitaetstrasse 22, CHN H75.3, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland.
Tel.: +41 44 632 82 30
Fax: +41 44 632 10 29


Background:  One of the most prominent characteristics of fast food and take-away food is that it is convenient, meaning that it saves time, it reduces the required effort for food provisioning and culinary skills are transferred. Studies that investigate the unique effect of these factors on dietary behaviours are lacking. Therefore, the present study aimed to examine the associations of time, effort, time spent cooking and cooking skills with fast food and take-away food consumption.

Methods:  Between May and June 2009, a random postal survey was sent out to 2323 Swiss households. The response rate was 44% (n = 1017). Spearman rank correlations and logistic regression analysis were used to determine the multiple relationships of fast food and take-away food intake with gender, age, educational level, income, mental effort, physical effort, working status, cooking skills and time spent cooking.

Results:  Fast food consumption was found to be associated with gender (males) [odds ratio (OR) = 1.61, < 0.05], age (40–59 years) (OR = 0.41, < 0.001), age (≥60 years) (OR = 0.13, P < 0.001), time spent cooking (OR = 0.99; P < 0.01) and cooking skills (OR = 0.81, P < 0.05). Take-away food consumption was found to be associated with gender (males) (OR = 1.86, P < 0.01), age (40–59 years) (OR = 0.58, P < 0.01), age (≥60 years) (OR = 0.28, P < 0.001), income (OR = 1.11, P <0.01), education (middle) (OR = 0.65, P < 0.05) and mental effort (OR = 1.25, P < 0.05).

Conclusions:  Take-away and fast food consumption are behaviours that share the same demographic determinants of age and gender, although they are influenced by different life style determinants. It is very likely that motivations related to time, effort and cooking are of increasing importance for food decisions in our society.