Eating Out: A Multifaceted Activity in Contemporary Norway

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Over the last decades, eating out has become an increasingly important part of everyday life in Norway. Eighty percent of Norwegians eat at least one meal away from home (excluding work or school canteen meals) every month. As with eating at home, eat-out habits are characterized by many social differentiations. Being young, male, and living in a city (particularly Oslo) were the factors most commonly associated with a higher propensity to consume meals away from the home. Recent decades have seen growing interest in foreign and ethnic foods, combined with a greater interest in culinary matters in general. Increased attention is also being given to healthy eating, with foods that are high in sugar and fat becoming a significant concern; indeed, our data indicate that around half the population prefers to avoid hamburger restaurants for reasons associated with health. This article uses data from a set of time series studies from 1991 to 2007, collected by mail, and a web survey carried out in 2006, answered by 685 respondents. The results show that eating out is a multifaceted activity, with a wide range of places to eat out, and different reasons for doing so, whether out of necessity or for pleasure. Eating out is also a form of self-representation and identity; for instance, it can be a sign of an urban lifestyle. However, eating out has not replaced the fundamental meals at home, which have been stable for years.
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