The recession has had little effect on adults' appetite for fast food, but press stories about obesity and health problems caused by some types of food are having more of an effect.
Market intelligence firm Key Note found that 72.2% of adults had not changed the frequency of their visits to fast food chains due to the impact of the recession, while 1.9% were actually visiting more frequently because times were tight.
But 40.8% of respondents said they had reduced the frequency of their visits because of health concerns, thanks to press coverage of the obesity and other health problems that some types of fast food can cause. Meanwhile 30.2% were eating healthier options and 25.4% of those interviewed were eating smaller portions.
Despite that, the message on health was struggling to get through to younger adults aged 20-24, with 84.8% admitting that they had visited a fast food outlet in the last six months, and 62.8% agreeing that there had been no change to their eating habits.
By social grade, the Ds were the most likely sector to have reduced their fast-food outlet visits (34.8%). The recession also appears to have had a particularly significant effect on adults in Wales, with 55% indicating that they were visiting these outlets less frequently because of the recession. Among the small group (1.9%) of adults who had visited fast-food outlets more frequently because of the recession, were those aged 34 to 44 years (3.2%), those from social grade E (3.7%), from the North (13.8%), and those with children aged 5 to 9 years (7.1%).
Key Note estimates that the UK fast-food, takeaway and home-delivery market (excluding coffee shops) reached a value of £10.13bn in 2009, an increase of 4.3% compared with 2008.
By Neil Gerrard
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