The unpredictability of the average German’s daily routine is having a significant impact on their eating habits, according to a Nestlé study.
The company’s second ‘So is(s)t Deutschland’ (‘That’s how Germany eats/is’) survey asked more than 10,000 people about their day-to-day life and dietary patterns.
Work was an obvious influence on people’s eating habits. Surprisingly, longer working hours affected women’s eating patterns more than men’s.
Overall, the study found a striking disparity between the sexes’ general attitude to food. More than 55% of women said they worry very much or too much about their diet, compared to 32% of men.
No fixed eating times
More than half of 20 to 29-year-olds, and more than two in five professionals who took part in the study said their daily routines were unpredictable.
Of this group, only one in five said they ate at fixed times of the day. 43% ate only when they had time and 31% said they ate whenever they were hungry.
Among those professionals who worked a 40 to 49-hour week, 43% of women had irregular eating habits compared to 36% of men.
More than two thirds of women whose working week exceeded 50 hours ate irregularly, compared to just over half of men in the same category.
Somewhat predictably, many people who took part in the survey said they tended to partially substitute main meals with snacks. This trend was especially prevalent among the under 30s.
More than two thirds of people under 30 ate “every now and then” instead of having a regular main meal. Roughly one sixth of this group replaced a main meal with a snack every day or almost every day.
Young single people and young couples without children were most likely to substitute main meals in this way.
More than 90% of non-professionals who were questioned said they ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at home.
In contrast, more than two thirds of professionals had lunch outside the home. 27% usually or at least occasionally ate out for breakfast.
The study also confirmed that options for eating out or ‘on-the-go’ have increased significantly in recent years.
Young people were the most likely to take advantage of this array of choice. Around 41% of 14 to 29-year-olds in Germany visited fast-food restaurants at least once a month, compared to only 7% of 45 to 59-year-olds.
About 68% of people, including two-thirds of parents with children under the age of 18, felt that too many children in Germany had an unhealthy and unbalanced diet.
Most comprehensive study of eating habits
The ‘So is(s)t Deutschland’ study is the largest and most comprehensive examination of people’s eating habits ever conducted in Germany.
Nestlé commissioned the first study in 2009 to analyse the impact of social changes on people’s dietary patterns. The company commissioned a second in 2011.
The study was carried out by the Allensbach Institute, the Society for Consumer Research (GfK), Ipsos Germany and the Icon Kids & Youth institute.
It also investigated consumers’ attitudes to a range of other food-related topics including regional and organic products, labelling systems, sustainability and pricing.
The published study is available only in German. It features editorials from a variety of leading German politicians, NGOs, and other stakeholders.
Published by Deutscher Fachverlag, it can be bought from booksellers in Germany and on www.amazon.de.
Download an abstract of the ‘So is(s)t Deutschland’ study (PDF in German)
Nestlé Germany website
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