Eating patterns in the UK are changing, not least of these changes is the increase in food availability and choice outside the home. Eating outside the home is not a new phenomenon; limited data are available for adults and for the population as a whole, but no such data exist for children. Information on food choices and purchasing is valuable in identifying relevant targets for effective change. This paper reports the dietary intake and the percentage of total intake from home and away from home (identifying as outside sources, school meals, other homes, school tuck-shops and shops or cafes for 379 11–12-year-old schoolchildren in 1990), as well as the nutrient density of intakes from each food source. Each child completed two 3-day dietary records between January and July 1990, and was interviewed after each 3-day record by one dietitian. The purpose of the interview was to verify and enlarge upon the information recorded in order to obtain a quantitative record of food intake and to determine the source of each food item. Food tables were used to calculate nutrient intake. Sources of food outside the home accounted for approximately 30% of their total energy intake. Food from home had the highest micronutrient density of all the sources. The nutrient density of school meals compared well with food from home; school meals were lower in non-milk extrinsic sugars although higher in fat and lower in protein, non-starch polysaccharides, iron and retinol equivalents. Foods purchased from shops/cafes or school tuck-shops were of poor nutrient quality for all nutrients measured. Children from ‘low’ social groups had intakes of a lower nutrient density from home than children from ‘high’ social groups and also obtained a greater proportion of their total diet from shops or cafes. Although the popularity of the different food sources outside the home varied with gender and social group, the quality of intake obtained did not, suggesting that children followed peer group food preferences outside the home rather than food habits taught at home.
Human Nutrition Research Centre, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK 2:
Department of Medical Statistics, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK