Australia's Growing Food Delivery Habit Is Negatively Impacting Our Health

A survey into Australia's food ordering habits has found we're leaving the kitchen and ordering online instead.

The Cancer Council's LiveLighter campaign has highlighted Australia's growing obsession with ordering food online and the impact it is having on our health.

The 'Shape of Australia' report surveyed 2000 people, and found that one in 10 Aussies order food online at least once a week, and 36 percent upsized their meals.

It estimates there are 70 million meals ordered each year through online delivery services. LiveLighter warns this is contributing to Australia's obesity crisis, due to people consuming more kilojoules from takeaway meals than they would from home-cooked ones.

The increasing reliance on food bought outside the home and delivered via online services is not just hitting the hip pocket, but our waistlines as well.

"When we rely on buying food outside of home or being delivered via online services we’re more likely to eat more, make unhealthy food choices and spend more money than we normally would when preparing and cooking meals at home,” LiveLighter Campaign Manager Alison McAleese said.

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Almost seven in 10 (69 percent) of respondents said they spent more money on food ordered online than they would if they had cooked at home, and 62 percent said they chose a less healthy option.

Photo: Getty

Half of respondents said they added a soft drink to their meal and 32 percent said the meal sizes they ordered were larger than what they would eat at home.

By cooking at home we have more control over the serving sizes and we're more likely to hit the recommended five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit a day, LiveLighter's WA manager Kelly Kennington said.

“Adding more fruit and veggies to our meals can mean a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers as well as helping to lower blood pressure and cholesterol,” Kennington said.

“Sure, it may take a little extra time to plan ahead and cook, but when considering the benefits and just how much cheaper this is in the long run, it’s well worth the effort."

Photo: Getty

But convenience is the main factor in the rise in food being bought outside the home, according to McAleese.

“We know almost half of Australians (42 percent) feel they’re often rushed and pressed for time," she said.

"Given the convenience driving the success of online food delivery it’s no surprise Aussies are taking advantage of these services as a quick fix for breakfast, lunch or dinner."

Image: AAP

Small business owner Rebecca Barnacle, who frequently uses food delivery serves, told 10 daily that her long and unpredictable hours made the convenience of UberEats and Deliveroo very appealing.

"When I order food it's generally because I have no food at home, and because of my long work hours it can make it hard to find time to cook my own food," she said.

"I also find there are healthier options available with online delivery services, such as Uber Eats, than fast food places.

"It can be expensive but it saves me a lot of time if I have been extremely busy during the day."

Photo: Getty

One online food delivery service (the survey wouldn't name names) recorded a whopping 7,000 orders per hour -- that's two every second.

In 2018, Uber revealed Australia had ordered 83 million chicken nuggets, 4.7 million burritos, and that hot chips were the most popular menu item for a second year in a row.

One customer had placed 658 orders by December, averaging 1.9 a day.

Photo: Getty

Menulog told 10 daily customers are increasingly turning towards "healthier" options, with a 80-90 percent increase from traditional 'takeaway' cuisines in the last two years.

"We’ve seen a distinct rise in healthier categories such as ‘salad’, ‘sandwiches’, ‘Vietnamese’, ‘sushi’, ‘Steak’, ‘juice / juice bar’, as well as ‘Gluten Free’, ‘Vegan’, ‘Vegetarian’ and ‘Organic’," a Menulog spokesperson said.

"We’ve also seen greater demand for healthier, well-known brands such as Top Juice, Sumo Salad, Poked and more, which have all joined Menulog in the past two years."

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Deliveroo has also seen a changing trend towards customers choosing healthier options, leading the company to work with restaurants to provider more healthy options on their menus.

"We are seeing more and more people embrace food delivery but at the same time, we’re also seeing a significantly growing trend of people choosing healthier options on the platform like poke and salads," Deliveroo told 10 daily.

"The key to making healthy choices is to be informed about things like nutrition and to have a wide selection of food."

Despite the move to apparently healthier foods ordered online, LiveLighter hopes Australians can "fall back in love with home cooked meals".

“We want Aussies to realise convenience eating comes at a price, not just to their wallets, but more importantly their health,” McAleese said.

UberEats has been contacted for comment.