South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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Fast-food consumption among 17-year-olds in the Birth to Twenty cohort

A Feeley, JM Pettifor, SA Norris


Objectives: Assessment of fast-food consumption in urban black adolescents.
Design: The current research was a descriptive cross-sectional study.
Setting: Subjects attending the Birth to Twenty (Bt20) research facility at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg between September 2007 and May 2008 were enrolled.
Subjects: 655 black subjects (51.1% females) were consecutively selected to participate from the larger cohort of Bt20.
Outcome measures: Fast-food item consumption and frequency of  fast-food outlet visits were assessed by interviewer-administered questionnaire.
Results: Over a 7-day assessment period, participants consumed 5 026 fast-food items, with the most popular food item being an item known colloquially as a ‘quarter’. There were no gender differences in terms of preferences. Mean fast-food intake was 8.1 (4.6) items and 7.2 (4.7) items per week for males and females respectively (ρ = 0.01). A typical ‘quarter’ consists of a quarter-loaf of white bread, chips, a slice of cheese and any number of delicatessen meats and sauces. A macronutrient comparison between a ‘quarter’ and three commercially available fast-food meals was undertaken, with the ‘quarter’ providing the most energy (5 970 kJ) and being the least expensive (mean cost = R9.16).
Conclusion: The average estimated daily energy requirement for a 17-year-old is approximately 10 000 kJ, thus the ‘quarter’ may make a significant contribution to daily energy intake. Further research assessing the role of fast-foods in the provision of total energy and nutrient intakes in adolescents is required

AJOL African Journals Online