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Excess meat consumption, particularly of red and processed meats, is associated with nutritional and environmental health harms. While only a small portion of the population is vegetarian, surveys suggest many Americans may be reducing their meat consumption. To inform education campaigns, more information is needed about attitudes, perceptions, behaviours and foods eaten in meatless meals.
A web-based survey administered in April 2015 assessed meat reduction behaviours, attitudes, what respondents ate in meatless meals and sociodemographic characteristics.
Nationally representative, web-based survey in the USA.
US adults (n 1112) selected from GfK Knowledgeworks’ 50 000-member online panel. Survey weights were used to assure representativeness.
Two-thirds reported reducing meat consumption in at least one category over three years, with reductions of red and processed meat most frequent. The most common reasons for reduction were cost and health; environment and animal welfare lagged. Non-meat reducers commonly agreed with statements suggesting that meat was healthy and ‘belonged’ in the diet. Vegetables were most often consumed ‘always’ in meatless meals, but cheese/dairy was also common. Reported meat reduction was most common among those aged 45–59 years and among those with lower incomes.
The public and environmental health benefits of reducing meat consumption create a need for campaigns to raise awareness and contribute to motivation for change. These findings provide rich information to guide intervention development, both for the USA and other high-income countries that consume meat in high quantities.
Despite the importance of cooking in modern life, public perceptions about what it means to cook are unknown. We aimed to examine perceptions of cooking and their association with cooking confidence, attitudes and behaviours in the USA.
We designed and fielded a nationally representative survey among US adults (n 1112) in April 2015. We used factor analysis to identify perceptions about cooking and multivariate ordered logit and Poisson models to explore associations between those perceptions and cooking confidence, attitudes and behaviours.
Nationally representative web-based survey of US adults.
US adults aged ≥18 years.
Americans conceptualized cooking in three ways: the use of scratch ingredients, convenience foods and not using heat. Respondents who perceived cooking as including convenience foods were less confident in their ability to cook from scratch (OR=0·52, P<0·001) and less likely to enjoy cooking (OR=0·68, P=0·01) than those who did not. Although individuals who perceived cooking as including only scratch ingredients reported cooking dinner (4·31 times/week) and using packaged/boxed products (0·95 times/week) the least frequently, few notable differences in the frequency of cooking meals were observed.
Cooking frequency is similar among US adults regardless of how they perceive cooking, but cooking confidence and enjoyment are lowest among Americans who perceive cooking as including the use of convenience foods. These insights should inform the development of more specific measures of cooking behaviour as well as meaningful and targeted public health messages to encourage healthier cooking.
To examine national patterns in cooking frequency and diet quality among adults in the USA, overall and by weight-loss intention.
Analysis of cross-sectional 24 h dietary recall and interview data. Diet quality measures included total kilojoules per day, grams of fat, sugar and carbohydrates per day, fast-food meals per week, and frozen/pizza and ready-to-eat meals consumed in the past 30 d. Multivariable regression analysis was used to test associations between frequency of cooking dinner per week (low (0–1), medium (2–5) and high (6–7)), dietary outcomes and weight-loss intention.
The 2007–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Adults aged 20 years and over (n 9569).
In 2007–2010, 8 % of adults lived in households in which someone cooked dinner 0–1 times/week and consumed, on an average day, 9627 total kilojoules, 86 g fat and 135 g sugar. Overall, compared with low cookers (0–1 times/week), a high frequency of cooking dinner (6–7 times/week) was associated with lower consumption of daily kilojoules (9054 v. 9627 kJ, P=0·002), fat (81 v. 86 g, P=0·016) and sugar (119 v. 135 g, P<0·001). Individuals trying to lose weight consumed fewer kilojoules than those not trying to lose weight, regardless of household cooking frequency (2111 v. 2281 kJ/d, P<0·006).
Cooking dinner frequently at home is associated with consumption of a healthier diet whether or not one is trying to lose weight. Strategies are needed to encourage more cooking among the general population and help infrequent cookers better navigate the food environment outside the home.
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