Online food delivery typically unhealthy fare
Online food delivery via smartphone apps have revolutionised food purchasing. Having food delivered during COVID-19 lock-downs was a super-convenient service and a treat to help endure social isolation. However, it has a downside that may endure.
Two published papers have documented not only the rise of online food delivery over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and New Zealand, but the poor nutritional quality of food typically ordered. A survey conducted in Sydney and Auckland found the outlets used were unhealthy as measured by a Food Environment Score. The most popular outlets were the usual take-away franchise stores and 85.9% of popular menu items were discretionary foods.
Another study in Sydney examined both the nutritional quality of the food and how it was marketed. It found 80.5% of menu items were discretionary, based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines. The discretionary items were more likely to be the most popular and be advertised with an image and offered as part of a value bundle. The majority of discretionary choices were more expensive than core food options.
Online food delivery appears here to stay as it meets consumers demand for convenience, however it poses a new challenge for public nutrition health intervention to improve the nutritional quality of the food offered.