This paper aims to determine the nutritional profile of popular takeaway meals in the UK. Fast food has a poor nutritional profile; research has focused on the major catering chains, with limited data on takeaway food from independent establishments.
Random samples of takeaway meals were purchased from small, independent takeaway establishments. Multiple samples of 27 different takeaway meals, from Indian, Chinese, kebab, pizza and English-style establishments (n = 489), were analysed for portion size, energy, protein, carbohydrate, total fat, salt and total sugars.
Takeaway meals were inconsistent with UK dietary recommendations; pizzas revealed the highest energy content, and Chinese meals were lowest in total fat. However, there was a high degree of variability between and within categories, but the majority of meals were excessive for portion size, energy, macronutrients and salt.
The present study focused on energy, macronutrients, salt and total sugars. Future research should analyse the quality of fat and carbohydrates and micronutrients to provide a more detailed nutritional profile of takeaway food.
The nutritional variability between establishments suggests that recipe reformulation should be explored in an attempt to improve the nutritional quality of takeaway foods. In addition, portion size reduction could favour both the consumer and the industry.
Takeaway outlets do not provide nutritional information; due to the excessive nutritional profiles, regular intake may increase the risk of non-communicable disease. Therefore, there is a pressing need for this provision to help consumers make conscious food choices.
This is the first study to analyse energy and macronutrient content of independent takeaway meals in the UK.
Funding for the project was provided by Liverpool Primary Care trust to Liverpool City Council. Liverpool City Council funded Liverpool John Moores University for the analysis of the Liverpool section of data collection as part of a larger funded project to reformulate takeaway food; the funding also provided research staff and time to analyse data, the writing of reports and peer-reviewed article submissions. The authors acknowledge Knowsley Council/NHS and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council for kindly providing additional data from their respective regions, and they acknowledge Jane Rawling, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, Trading Standards, and Richard Fontana, Environmental Health and Consumer Protection Service, Knowsley MBC for collection of meal samples.
Jaworowska, A., M. Blackham, T., Long, R., Taylor, C., Ashton, M., Stevenson, L. and Glynn Davies, I. (2014), "Nutritional composition of takeaway food in the UK", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 44 No. 5, pp. 414-430. https://doi.org/10.1108/NFS-08-2013-0093Download as .RIS
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