Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 January 2007
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.
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).
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.
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.