People who often eat out spend more money on meals, waste more food and eat less healthily than people who frequently make their own lunch, according to a result of a survey released by the Taipei Medical University Hospital yesterday.
In order to understand the eating and consumption habits of the nation’s office workers, the hospital conducted a survey earlier this month of 1,400 people, with 90 percent of the respondents being office workers, 56 percent of which were between 25 and 35 years old.
Chief of the hospital’s department of nutrition, Su Hsiu-yueh (蘇秀悅), said 78 percent of the respondents said they frequently eat out. Using this percentage, the hospital estimated that there are more than 6.46 million office workers in Taiwan who often eat out.
The survey results showed that people who mostly eat out spend an average of NT$5,517 (US$183) on meals per week, which is 24 percent more than those who take their own lunch to work spend — NT$4,416.
Comparing the monthly expenses of the two groups, people who often eat out spend an average of NT$13,371 per month, while people who make their lunch spend an average of NT$11,507 per month, Su said, adding that people who bring food from home can save about NT$2,000 more than those who eat out each month, which is approximately one month’s worth of a graduate’s wages a year.
The survey data also showed that 27.7 percent of people who make their lunch say they often cannot finish eating their meal, compared with up to 54.7 percent of those who frequently eat out, 86 percent of which tend to end up throwing the remaining food away.
However, the respondents who often eat out and do finish their meals have a tendency to eat much more than they should and consequently have a higher body mass index (BMI) ratio than those who often throw away the unfinished meals, the hospital said.
In addition, the survey results reflected the prevalence of those with imbalanced diets — less than 10 percent of the respondents said that they eat food from all six food groups on a daily basis, while 60 percent of people who frequently eat out said that they seldom eat food from all six food groups in one day.
Su said the survey results also showed that although 93 percent of people that frequent restaurants recognize that using disposable containers and utensils is harmful to the environment, 94 percent of them still often use the utensils and containers due to their convenience, showing an inconformity between their knowledge and behavior.
To make eating out healthier, people can split the food from a lunch box into two meals, keeping one-third of the meat and rice in tupperware containers for another meal, Su suggested, adding that this method could also cut meal costs and help maintain a healthier diet.