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Differences in nutrient and energy contents of commonly consumed dishes prepared in restaurants v. at home in Hunan Province, China

  • Xiaofang Jia (a1), Jiawu Liu (a2), Bo Chen (a3), Donghui Jin (a2), Zhongxi Fu (a2), Huilin Liu (a2), Shufa Du (a4), Barry M Popkin (a4) and Michelle A Mendez (a4)...



Eating away from home is associated with poor diet quality, in part due to less healthy food choices and larger portions. However, few studies account for the potential additional contribution of differences in food composition between restaurant- and home-prepared dishes. The present study aimed to investigate differences in nutrients of dishes prepared in restaurants v. at home.


Eight commonly consumed dishes were collected in twenty of each of the following types of locations: small and large restaurants, and urban and rural households. In addition, two fast-food items were collected from ten KFC, McDonald’s and food stalls. Five samples per dish were randomly pooled from every location. Nutrients were analysed and energy was calculated in composite samples. Differences in nutrients of dishes by preparation location were determined.


Hunan Province, China.


Na, K, protein, total fat, fatty acids, carbohydrate and energy in dishes.


On average, both the absolute and relative fat contents, SFA and Na:K ratio were higher in dishes prepared in restaurants than households (P < 0·05). Protein was 15 % higher in animal food-based dishes prepared in households than restaurants (P<0·05). Quantile regression models found that, at the 90th quantile, restaurant preparation was consistently negatively associated with protein and positively associated with the percentage of energy from fat in all dishes. Moreover, restaurant preparation also positively influenced the SFA content in dishes, except at the highest quantiles.


These findings suggest that compared with home preparation, dishes prepared in restaurants in China may differ in concentrations of total fat, SFA, protein and Na:K ratio, which may further contribute, beyond food choices, to less healthy nutrient intakes linked to eating away from home.

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