Eating at fast-food restaurants is associated with dietary intake, demographic, psychosocial and behavioural factors among African Americans in North Carolina

Jessie A Satia, Joseph A Galanko, Anna Maria Siega-Riz
Public Health Nutrition 2004, 7 (8): 1089-96

OBJECTIVE: To examine associations of the frequency of eating at fast-food restaurants with demographic, behavioural and psychosocial factors and dietary intake in African American adults.

METHODS: Self-reported data from a population-based cross-sectional survey of 658 African Americans, aged 20-70 years, in North Carolina. An 11-page questionnaire assessed eating at fast-food restaurants, demographic, behavioural and diet-related psychosocial factors, and dietary intake (fruit, vegetable, total fat and saturated fat intakes, and fat-related dietary behaviours).

RESULTS: The participants were aged 43.9+/-11.6 years (mean+/-standard deviation), 41% were male, 37% were college graduates and 75% were overweight or obese. Seventy-six per cent reported eating at fast-food restaurants during the previous 3 months: 4% usually, 22% often and 50% sometimes. Frequency of eating at fast-food restaurants was positively associated with total fat and saturated fat intakes and fat-related dietary behaviours (P<0.0001) and inversely associated with vegetable intake (P<0.05). For example, mean daily fat intake was 39.0 g for usually/often respondents and 28.3 g for those reporting rare/never eating at fast-food restaurants. Participants who reported usual/often eating at fast-food restaurants were younger, never married, obese, physically inactive and multivitamin non-users (all P<0.01). Frequency of eating at fast-food restaurants was positively associated with fair/poor self-rated health, weak belief in a diet-cancer relationship, low self-efficacy for healthy eating, weight dissatisfaction, and perceived difficulties of preparing healthy meals and ordering healthy foods in restaurants (all P<0.05). Frequency of eating at fast-food restaurants did not differ significantly by sex, education, smoking, ability to purchase healthy foods or knowledge of the Food Guide Pyramid.

CONCLUSIONS: Eating at fast-food restaurants is associated with higher fat and lower vegetable intakes in African Americans. Interventions to reduce fast-food consumption and obesity in African Americans should consider demographic and behavioural characteristics and address attitudes about diet-disease relationships and convenience barriers to healthy eating.

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