Consumption of takeaway and delivery meals is associated with increased BMI and percent fat among UK Biobank participants

John Speakman* (Corresponding Author), Ahmad Abdualrazag A Albalawi, Catherine Hambly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Consumption of meals bought from out-of-home sources is a suggested risk factor for obesity, but the supporting evidence is mixed.

To investigate the association between consumption of different types of meals and BMI or percent body fat.

Data were from the UK Biobank in response to a “Type of Meals Eaten” survey, which specified the sources of the meals consumed over the previous 24 h. Because direction of causality is unknown, the data were analyzed with meal choice as the dependent variable first and then BMI as the dependent variable second.

The total number of participants was 5197 (2841 women and 2356 men). Participants with higher BMI and percent body fat were more likely to report consuming takeaway and/or delivery meals, with prevalence ORs (95% CIs) of 2.12 (95% CI: 1.40, 3.22; Bonferroni P < 0.0001) for women's adjusted BMI, 1.95 (95% CI: 1.30, 2.93; Bonferroni P < 0.0001) for women's adjusted percent body fat, 1.65 (95% CI: 1.05, 2.59; Bonferroni P < 0.002) for men's adjusted BMI, and 1.41 (95% CI: 0.70, 2.84; Bonferroni P < 0.01) for men's adjusted percent body fat. As BMI and percent body fat increased, both men and women were increasingly less likely to report having consumed a home-cooked and prepared meal during the previous 24 h. Analyzing the data with BMI and percent body fat as the dependent variable showed that both unadjusted and adjusted BMI and percent body fat were higher in individuals reporting consumption of takeaway and delivery foods the previous day and lower in those consuming homecooked meals. The probability of having consumed a meal that was prepared and eaten at a restaurant and/or café was also associated with BMI and percent fat among men but not women.

Homecooked meals were more often consumed by those with low BMI and percent body fat, whereas delivery and takeaway meals were more often eaten by individuals with higher BMI. Consumption of fast-food/café meals was not consistently associated with BMI or percent body fat. The direction of causality in these associations cannot be inferred from this cross-sectional study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-188
Number of pages16
JournalThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number1
Early online date10 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Supported by a studentship from the University of Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, to AA and a Wolfson merit award from the Royal Society to JRS.

Data Availability Statement

The data described in this manuscript are publicly available upon request to UK Biobank.

Supplemental Tables 1 and 2 are available from the “Supplementary data” link in the online posting of the article and from the same link in the online table of contents at


  • type of meals
  • obesity
  • fast food
  • homemade meals
  • takeaways
  • ready meals


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