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Open AccessArticle

Junk Food on Demand: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the Nutritional Quality of Popular Online Food Delivery Outlets in Australia and New Zealand

1
Westmead Applied Research Centre, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney 2145, Australia
2
Prevention Research Collaboration, Charles Perkins Centre, Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney 2006, Australia
3
Menzies Centre for Health Policy, Sydney School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney 2006, Australia
4
Discipline of Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland 1011, New Zealand
5
ANZAC Research Institute, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, The University of Sydney, Sydney 2137, Australia
6
The George Institute for Global Health, The University of New South Wales, Camperdown 2006, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Nutrients 2020, 12(10), 3107; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12103107
Received: 4 September 2020 / Revised: 2 October 2020 / Accepted: 9 October 2020 / Published: 12 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Nutrition and Public Health)
The demand for convenience and the increasing role of digital technology in everyday life has fueled the use of online food delivery services (OFD’s), of which young people are the largest users globally. OFD’s are disrupting traditional food environments, yet research evaluating the public health implications of such services is lacking. We evaluated the characteristics and nutritional quality of popular food outlets on a market-leading platform (UberEATS®) in a cross-sectional observational study conducted in two international cities: Sydney (Australia) and Auckland (New Zealand). A systematic search using publicly available population-level data was used to identify geographical areas with above-average concentrations (>30%) of young people (15–34-years). A standardized data extraction protocol was used to identify the ten most popular food outlets within each area. The nutritional quality of food outlets was assessed using the Food Environment Score (FES) (range: −10 ‘unhealthiest’ to 10 ‘healthiest’). Additionally, the most popular menu items from each food outlet were classified as discretionary or core foods/beverages according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines. The majority of popular food outlets were classified as ‘unhealthy’ (FES range −10 to −5; 73.5%, 789/1074) and were predominately takeaway franchise stores (59.6%, 470/789, e.g., McDonald’s®). 85.9% of all popular menu items were discretionary (n = 4958/5769). This study highlights the pervasion and accessibility of discretionary foods on OFD’s. This study demonstrated that the most popular food outlets on the market-leading online food delivery service are unhealthy and popular menu items are mostly discretionary foods; facilitating the purchase of foods of poor nutritional quality. Consideration of OFD’s in public health nutrition strategies and policies in critical. View Full-Text
Keywords: food environment; online food delivery; diet; nutrition; take out; fast food; young adult; adolescent food environment; online food delivery; diet; nutrition; take out; fast food; young adult; adolescent
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Partridge, S.R.; Gibson, A.A.; Roy, R.; Malloy, J.A.; Raeside, R.; Jia, S.S.; Singleton, A.C.; Mandoh, M.; Todd, A.R.; Wang, T.; Halim, N.K.; Hyun, K.; Redfern, J. Junk Food on Demand: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the Nutritional Quality of Popular Online Food Delivery Outlets in Australia and New Zealand. Nutrients 2020, 12, 3107.

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