Background: Few studies have investigated the associations of takeaway food consumption with overall diet quality and abdominal obesity. Young adults are high consumers of takeaway food so we aimed to examine these associations in a national study of young Australian adults.
Methods: A national sample of 1,277 men and 1,585 women aged 26-36 completed a self-administered questionnaire on demographic and lifestyle factors, a 127 item food frequency questionnaire, usual daily frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption and usual weekly frequency of takeaway food consumption. Dietary intake was compared with the dietary recommendations from the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Waist circumference was measured for 1,065 men and 1,129 women. Moderate abdominal obesity was defined as >/= 94 cm for men and >/= 80 cm for women. Prevalence ratios (PR) were calculated using log binomial regression. Takeaway food consumption was dichotomised, with once a week or less as the reference group.
Results: Consumption of takeaway food twice a week or more was reported by more men (37.9%) than women (17.7%, P < 0.001). Compared with those eating takeaway once a week or less, men eating takeaway twice a week or more were significantly more likely to be single, younger, current smokers and spend more time watching TV and sitting, whereas women were more likely to be in the workforce and spend more time watching TV and sitting. Participants eating takeaway food at least twice a week were less likely (P < 0.05) to meet the dietary recommendation for vegetables, fruit, dairy, extra foods, breads and cereals (men only), lean meat and alternatives (women only) and overall met significantly fewer dietary recommendations (P < 0.001). After adjusting for confounding variables (age, leisure time physical activity, TV viewing and employment status), consuming takeaway food twice a week or more was associated with a 31% higher prevalence of moderate abdominal obesity in men (PR: 1.31; 95% CI: 1.07, 1.61) and a 25% higher prevalence in women (PR: 1.25; 95% CI: 1.04, 1.50).
Conclusion: Eating takeaway food twice a week or more was associated with poorer diet quality and a higher prevalence of moderate abdominal obesity in young men and women.