Thursday, August 14th, 2014

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.”

Contact Profile

Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is Australia’s best known and longest established market research and public opinion survey company. Roy Morgan Single Source is thorough, accurate, and provides comprehensive, directly applicable information about current and future customers. It is unique in that it directs all the questions to each individual from a base survey sample of around 55,000 interviews in Australia and 15,000 interviews in New Zealand annually - the largest Single Source databases in the world. The questions asked relate to lifestyle and attitudes, media consumption habits (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, catalogues, pay TV and the Internet), brand and product usage, purchase intentions, retail visitations, service provider preferences, financial information and recreation and leisure activities. This lead product is supported by a nationally networked, consultancy-orientated market research capability.
Shaun Ellis
P: 03 9224 5332


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