Socio-economic patterning of expenditures on ‘out-of-home’ food and non-alcoholic beverages by product and place of purchase in Britain

from Social Science & Medicine at on June 16, 2019 at 10:51AM

Publication date: Available online 15 June 2019

Source: Social Science & Medicine

Author(s): Laura Cornelsen, Nicolas Berger, Steven Cummins, Richard D. Smith


While most food is consumed at home, food eaten out-of-home plays an important role in diets and it has been associated with higher energy intake and higher body weight. Beyond prepared meals, there is limited understanding of what foods people buy out-of-home and where they buy them from. This study analyses out-of-home food purchases by food groups and food outlet types, and estimates socio-economic differences in these expenditure patterns. We used a nationally representative product-level dataset of expenditures (n=2,734,987) on foods and non-alcoholic beverages for out-of-home consumption for 9,704 respondents in Great Britain (June 2015-December 2017). Population weighted estimates of per capita weekly expenditures and shares of expenditure were derived for four outlet types and eight food groups. We used linear multi-level modelling to determine differences in expenditure patterns by socio-economic status (SES) characterised via occupational social grade. Out-of-home purchases make up 25-39% of total food and beverage expenditures. Mid- and high-SES respondents spent twice as much (£17.76 and £15.11 weekly), compared to low-SES respondents (£9.69) for out-ofhome food consumption. A third of expenditures across SES (36-37%) were spent in venues other than restaurants or fast-food and takeaway outlets. Meals accounted for 60% of expenditures, but a third was spent on beverages (10-12% non-alcoholic cold beverages, 17-18% hot beverages) and 9-10% on snacks. Mid- and low-SES respondents had a greater share of expenditure in takeaway and fast-food outlets, supermarkets and convenience stores, and on cold non-alcoholic beverages. Overall, low-SES respondents spent less on out-of-home foods but the share of this expenditure across different foods or outlets varied less. While restaurants, fast-food and takeaway outlets were a major source of out-of-home purchases, a significant proportion was spent in other outlets. Policies targeting out-of-home consumption should therefore consider the full range of foods as well as the diversity of places where they are sold.