Fast food intake in Canada: Differences among Canadians with diverse demographic, socio-economic and lifestyle characteristics

Jennifer L. Black, Jean-Michel Billette


OBJECTIVES: To estimate the contribution of fast food to daily energy intake, and compare intake among Canadians with varied demographic, socioeconomic and lifestyle characteristics.

METHODS: Using the National Cancer Institute method, nationally representative estimates of mean usual daily caloric intake from fast food were derived from 24-hour dietary recall data from the Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 2.2 (n = 17,509) among participants age ≥2 years. Mean daily intake and relative proportion of calories derived from fast food were compared among respondents with diverse demographic (age, sex, provincial and rural/urban residence), socio-economic (income, education, food security status) and health and lifestyle characteristics (physical activity, fruit/vegetable intake, vitamin/ mineral supplement use, smoking, binge drinking, body mass index (BMI), self-rated health and dietary quality).

RESULTS: On average, Canadians reported consuming 146 kcal/day from fast food, contributing to 6.3% of usual energy intake. Intake was highest among male teenagers (248 kcal) and lowest among women ≥70 years of age (32 kcal). Fast food consumption was significantly higher among respondents who reported lower fruit and vegetable intake, poorer dietary quality, binge drinking, not taking vitamin/mineral supplements (adults only), and persons with higher BMI. Socio-economic status, physical activity, smoking and self-rated health were not significantly associated with fast food intake.

CONCLUSION: While average Canadian fast food consumption is lower than national US estimates, intake was associated with lower dietary quality and higher BMI. Findings suggest that research and intervention strategies should focus on dietary practices of children and adolescents, whose fast food intakes are among the highest in Canada.


Fast foods; food habits; health surveys

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