Young adults and eating away from home: Associations with dietary intake patterns and weight status differ by choice of restaurant

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Abstract

Background: Young adults report frequent away-from-home eating; however, little is known regarding what types of restaurants are patronized or whether associations with dietary intake and weight status differ according to restaurant type. Objective: This cross-sectional study in a diverse sample of young adults examines sociodemographic differences in the frequency of eating at different types of fast-food and full-service (server brings food to table) restaurants. In addition, this study examines whether associations between away-from-home eating, dietary intake, and weight status differ according to restaurant type. Design: There were 1,030 men and 1,257 women (mean age=25.3 years) who participated in Project EAT-III (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults). Participants were members of a longitudinal cohort who completed baseline surveys at schools in Minneapolis/St Paul, MN, and completed the EAT-III surveys online or by mail in 2008-2009. Main outcome measures: Height, weight, and usual dietary intake were self-reported. Statistical analyses performed: Regression models adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics were used to examine associations between frequency of restaurant use, dietary intake, and weight status. Results: More frequent use of fast-food restaurants that primarily served burgers and french fries was associated with higher risk for overweight/obesity; higher intake of total energy, sugar-sweetened beverages, and fat; and with lower intake of healthful foods and key nutrients. For example, those who reported burger-and-fries restaurant use on three or more occasions per week consumed nearly one additional sugar-sweetened beverage per day compared to those who reported burger-and-fries restaurant use on less than one occasion per week. More frequent use of fast-food restaurants that primarily served sandwiches/subs was related to a few markers of poorer diet quality, but unrelated to weight status. More frequent use of full-service restaurants was also unrelated to weight status and related to higher intake of vegetables. Conclusions: There may be a need for interventions to promote healthier food choices among young adults who report frequent burger-and-fries restaurant use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1696-1703
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Volume111
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
FUNDING/SUPPORT: This study was supported by grant no. R01HL084064 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (Principal Investigator [PI]: Dianne Neumark-Sztainer). Additional salary support for Dr Laska's effort was provided by the National Cancer Institute (award no. K07CA126837 ; PI: Melissa Nelson Laska). The content of this manuscript is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute or the National Cancer Institute.

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