Yates, L. & Warde, A. (2015) The evolving content of meals in Great Britain. Results of a survey in 2012 in comparison with the 1950s, Appetite, 84(1). pp. 229-308.


This paper examines food eaten at meals in Great Britain. It presents findings about contemporary meal content, reflecting on the relationship between meal content and occasion, and makes comparison with an earlier study. Drawing on an online survey (N = 2784), conducted in September 2012, it describes the food consumed at daily eating events in terms of content, volume and complexity, common components and combinations, and sequence. Socio-demographic and economic differences are examined. Conceptual tools for analysing the association between food content and meal occasions are refined. The paper first explores the regularity of meal patterns. This is followed by description of the contours of the three principal daily eating events, with a brief section on snacks. The paper interprets distinctive features of current patterns by way of comparison with a similar study of eating habits in the 1950s. Findings reveal morning and midday eating events as simple and homogeneous in content, particularly on weekdays, with respondents breakfasting on cereal or toast, and lunching on sandwiches. Evening meals are more complex, structured and varied in content. Common patterns and systematic differentiation can be discerned, particularly across age cohort. Significant historical change can also be observed in relation to meal content and, to a lesser extent, meal pattern.

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