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Sunday 22 October 2017

Chicken or fish: what Irish are eating tells a lot about lifestyle

Study shows the area you live in will motivate your choice of meat

Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Health-conscious Irish consumers are more likely to eat fish, while weight-watchers are opting for chicken, according to new research.

Fish eaters, who make up 21pc of the population, are associated with being older, female and strongly motivated to have a healthy diet.

"They have heard the message about the health benefits of fish consumption, but this does not include meat for them," the study on our modern, meat-eating patterns reveals.

Chicken consumers accounted for 20pc of the group who were looked at using data from the National Adult Nutrition Survey to provide insight into our meat preferences.

They are more likely to be younger, physically active and urban dwellers.

"They displayed lower motivation to eat healthily than many other segments but were motivated by weight control and taste," it said.

Chicken consumers accounted for 20pc of the group who were looked at using data from the National Adult Nutrition Survey to provide insight into our meat preferences. Stock Image
Chicken consumers accounted for 20pc of the group who were looked at using data from the National Adult Nutrition Survey to provide insight into our meat preferences. Stock Image

This group is attracted to the notion that chicken can be incorporated into a lean diet - but that has not limited their selection of chicken type, with consumption of processed and food service chicken high.

Read More: 'How ditching fast-food helped me shed 5 stone'

The researchers found "processed pork indulgers" account for 13pc of the population and they derive the highest proportion of their calorie intake from meat in their diet. They had fat intakes above what is recommended for a healthy diet, eating meat products like sausages, bacon and puddings.

"This segment was characterised by a high proportion of men from a lower socio-economic background who had little motivation to eat healthily" said the study, carried out by Teagasc. They were mostly overweight men who were relatively unconcerned about the health consequences of their food choices.

In order to tempt them away from this kind of diet, there is a need to provide alternative leaner meats, offering strong enjoyment and taste benefits, the research recommended.

This would be a "stealth approach to health," said the study.

Just 4pc of the population are dubbed the "all things meat" brigade and they eat all kinds of meat with a high proportion of lamb.

These tended to be older people and rural dwellers and obtained 26pc of their energy from the meat in their diet but their "fat intakes were slightly above what is recommended for a healthy diet". A total of 21pc were 'diverse moderates' who consumed a moderate to low level of meat.

Researchers Sinéad McCarthy, Mary McCarthy and Saibh McGrath said the findings show how meat plays a diverse role in the diets of Irish adults. These motivations can be used for effectively targeting new meat products to the intended consumer group.

Irish Independent

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