Abstract

The South African fast-food industry has experienced recent growth. However, as consumers incorporated more fast foodinto their daily diets, obesity has become a major problem. Aggressive marketing techniques of fast foods coupled withbusy urban lifestyle have significant implication on dietary health habits. This study sought to raise awareness on the factorsthat have a bearing on the Body Mass Index (BMI) of fast food consumers. The study used a semi-structured questionnairein a survey through a quantitative research method. The study was limited to Mdanstane with a purposive sample size of 200respondents. A Multiple regression model was fitted to identify factors influencing the BMI of fast food consumers. Therespondents consisted of 51% female respondents with most of the respondents aged between 20 and 29. Seventy five percentof the respondents were Christians, with most earning less than R500 monthly mainly through State Social Grants and92% ofthe respondents were non vegetarian. The study revealed that BMI level is mainly influenced by age (P values <0.01), gender,franchise source of food, source of income and level of income (P values <0.05) as well as supermarket source of food andconsumers’ perception towards the fast food (P values <0.1). Respondents who were underweight (BMI<18.5) had their BMIinfluenced by non-supermarket and non-franchise source of fast foods. Respondents with normal weight (i.e. BMI 18.5-24.9)were under the age of 20 on a Social Grant usually with a non-franchise source of fast food with preference to fast foods basedon taste and energy-dense. Respondents who were overweight (BMI 25-29.9) had the BMI influenced by the source of incomeas remittances with a level of income less than R500. The study advocates for public health policy making concerning awarenessof the health consequences of fast food consumption targeting mostly young adult females who mainly purchase in franchisesand supermarkets with a high meaty diet. The study also recommends fast food enterprises to advise low price portfolios withlow diets to targets the low income earners.