Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

Personal and lifestyle characteristics predictive of the consumption of fast foods in Australia

Philip Mohra1 c1, Carlene Wilsona1, Kirsten Dunna1a2, Emily Brindala1a2 and Gary Witterta3

a1 CSIRO Human Nutrition, PO Box 10041, Adelaide BC, South Australia 5000, Australia

a2 School of Psychology, University of Adelaide, North Terrace Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia

a3 Discipline of Medicine, University of Adelaide, North Terrace Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia


Objective To identify key predictors of fast-food consumption from a range of demographic, attitudinal, personality and lifestyle variables.

Methods We analysed data from a nationwide survey (n = 20 527) conducted in Australia by Nielsen Media Research. Items assessing frequency of fast-food consumption at (1) eat in and (2) take away were regressed onto 12 demographic, seven media consumption, and 23 psychological and lifestyle variables, the latter derived from factor analysis of responses to 107 attitudinal and behavioural items.

Results Stepwise multiple regression analyses explained 29.6% of the variance for frequency of take-away and 9.6% of the variance for frequency of eat-in consumption of fast foods. Predictors of more frequent consumption of fast food at take away (and, to a lesser extent, eat in) included lower age – especially under 45 years, relative indifference to health consequences of behaviour, greater household income, more exposure to advertising, greater receptiveness to advertising, lesser allocation of time for eating, and greater allocation of time to home entertainment. There were no effects for occupational status or education level.

Conclusions The effects for age suggest that fast-food take-away consumption is associated with a general cultural shift in eating practices; individual differences in attitudinal and lifestyle characteristics constitute additional, cumulative, predictive factors. The role of advertising and the reasons for the lesser explanatory value of the eat-in models are important targets for further research.

(Received June 01 2006)

(Accepted February 21 2007)


c1 Corresponding author: Email