Meals out feeding the growth of the obesity epidemic

Poor food choices and a lack of cooking skills can no longer take some of the blame for the growing obesity epidemic. As it is actually when people eat out that the real damage happens, such as meal sizes growing dramatically even if hunger levels have not.  


The built environment has been implicated in the development of the epidemic of obesity. We investigated the differences in the meal patterns of normal weight vs. overweight/obese individuals occurring at home vs. other locations. The location of meals and their size in free-living participants were continuously recorded for 7 consecutive days. Study 1: 81 males and 84 females recorded their intake in 7-day diet diaries and wore a belt that contained a GPS Logger to record their location continuously for 7 consecutive days. Study 2: 388 males and 621 females recorded their intake in diet diaries for 7 consecutive days. In both studies, compared to eating at home, overweight/obese participants ate larger meals away from home in both restaurants and other locations than normal weight participants. Overweight/obese individuals appear to be more responsive to environmental cues for eating away from home. This suggests that the influence of the built environment on the intake of overweight/obese individuals may contribute to the obesity epidemic.

From Appetite Volume 59, Issue 2, October 2012, Pages 204-211


  • John M. de Castro
  • George A. King
  • Maria Duarte-Gardea
  • Salvador Gonzalez-Ayala
  • Charles H. Kooshian