A study, conducted by Ilana Nogueira Bezerra and colleagues at the University of Fortaleza and the University of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, demonstrated that there was no significant difference between non-consumers and consumers of away-from-home food (AFHF) in prevalence of overweight and obesity among men. Among women, the prevalence of overweight and obesity was lower in consumers compared with non-consumers of food away from home.

The study investigated 13,736 adults living in urban areas of Brazil who recorded all foods and beverages consumed during 24 hours, the amount consumed and the place where foods were obtained and consumed. All foods obtained and consumed away from home were considered as away-from-home food. 43% of the adults consumed foods away from home. This habit has been frequently associated to weight gain; however this relationship was not confirmed in this Brazilian population.

Although no association was found between eating away from home and BMI, the impact of AFHF on nutrient intake and daily consumption of specific food groups was substantial. Individuals who consumed food away from home had lower intakes of protein and higher intakes of total fat, saturated fat and free sugars than non-consumers.

On average, individuals who consumed AFHF had lower total intakes of rice, beans and milk and higher total intakes of energy-dense foods such as deep-fried and baked snacks, sweets and sugar, and soft drinks than non-consumers. Further studies are required to identify nutritional quality of foods consumed away from home to better understand their role on weight gain, but the results of this paper and those of previous studies suggest that individuals who consume food away from home might eat less healthy food, consequently can be at a higher risk of weight gain in the long term. Therefore, public health policies should be implemented to help people make healthier food choices away from home.

Read the full article here until 11th July 2014.

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