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Visiting fast food restaurants 10+ times a month increases likelihood of being overweight by up to 15%

Source: Roy Morgan Research; April 2011 - March 2014, sample n = 144,551 Australians 18+

Australia is getting fatter each year—but the odd burger, pizza or chicken wing doesn’t make a difference, does it? The short answer is: no. The long answer is:

In the three years to March 2014, 43% of Australian adults said they didn’t visit any fast food restaurant within the last four weeks. 27% of us went 1-4 times (classified as Light visitation), 17% went 5-9 times (Medium) and 13% said they made 10 or more visits (Heavy).

Across all age groups, there is little to no difference in the likelihood of being overweight (with a BMI >25) between people who haven’t visited a fast food restaurant at all and those went only 1-4 times a month.

Younger people aged 18-24 can visit fast food restaurants 5-9 times a month with only a 2% increase in their likelihood of being overweight (compared with the 18-24 year-old average). But as we get older, even Medium visitation has an increasing effect: 25-34 year-old Medium visitors are 5% more likely than the age norm to be overweight; Medium visitors 35-49 or 50-64 are each 7% more likely; and those aged over 65 going 5-9 times a month are 10% more likely than their peer average to be overweight.

Heavy visitation, however, greatly increases the likelihood of being overweight across all age groups: from an 11% increase among 18-24 year-olds up to 15% among people aged over 65. 

Increased likelihood of being overweight by Fast Food Restaurant visitation level

Source: Roy Morgan Research; April 2011 - March 2014, sample n = 144,551 Australians 18+

Michele Levine, CEO – Roy Morgan Research, says:

“These results—highlighted in our recent State of the Nation Report’s Spotlight on Australians’ Health—show that heavy fast food restaurant visitation of 10 or more times a month correlates to a double-digit increase in the likelihood of being overweight.

“However it is when investigating medium levels of visitation that we see the impact of age. Younger people can visit fast food restaurants from five to nine times a month and increase their likelihood of being overweight by only 2%. But as we all know, the body reacts less kindly to youthful indulgences as we get older.

“Not surprisingly there is some community concern that should fast food restaurants add home delivery to their eat-in or take away options, as has been reported recently, fast food consumption levels could increase among some consumers—with a consequent increase in their likelihood of being overweight.

“However as we reveal in the Report, Australia’s rising average BMI is about more than just fast food visitation. Other aspects of Nutritional Health, such as fruit and vegetable consumption, as well as things like activity and fitness levels and alcohol consumption each also play a part in determining BMI, and indeed our overall level of Wellness.”

For comments or more information please contact:

Michele Levine, CEO – Roy Morgan Research
Telephone: +61 (3) 9224 5215
Michele.Levine@roymorgan.com.au

Learn more about the State of the Nation Report 19 with a Spotlight on Australia‘s Health

About Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan Research has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

In Australia, Roy Morgan Research is considered to be the authoritative source of information on financial behaviour, readership, voting intentions and consumer confidence. Roy Morgan Research is a specialist in recontact customised surveys which provide invaluable and effective qualitative and quantitative information regarding customers and target markets.

About Roy Morgan’s State of the Nation Reports

Roy Morgan’s State of the Nation Reports provide a long-term perspective on Australian society. Released quarterly, the Reports measure a broad range of issues affecting the nation, plot them over time, and explore in more detail the impacts on Society, Technology, Economy, Politics and the Environment.