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Great Britain’s £1.2 Billion Junk Driving Problem

A typical service station
04 September 2019

Over half of UK drivers admit to eating fast food on long journeys, according to new research by SEAT. The binge eating costs £1.25 billion a year but more importantly has a safety risk as it affects concentration in the car.

More than 63% of Brits cave into a craving for junk food when on the road, with 55.7% stating they’re more likely to eat badly when in the car compared to at home.

Despite there being more healthy options available at many service stations than ever before, someone who stops off for a meal and snacks for their onward journey could face doubling their daily recommended calorie intake compared with dining at home.

An incredible £1.25 billion is spent on food at UK service stations each year, with drivers and passengers having to choose between meal deal sandwiches, cakes and cookies, breakfast pastries, packaged salads or food to takeaway such as burgers and nuggets.


Snacks & treats

Even though three quarters of Brits are put off from purchasing food at motorway services by cost, they admit they still buy snacks and treats because of convenience. Overall, sweets come out on top as Britain’s favourite snack when driving, with over a third grabbing a bag of confectionary on the road.

However, an increase in calories isn’t the only issue with service station snacks. High sugar and fat content may briefly improve alertness, however, with a sugar crash comes a reduction in concentration levels and lower mood which could make driving dangerous - not withstanding eating with one hand and driving with the other.


In a hurry

Richard Harrison, MD at SEAT UK, said: “Most of us like a treat on long journeys but our research has revealed some worrying trends in our eating habits on the road. As a nation, we are much more aware of the numerous detrimental effects of eating unhealthily but it’s not easy to break bad habits, especially as driving can be stressful and we are often in a hurry.

“Due to this, we’re encouraging drivers to think more about what they choose to eat when on the road and preferably, stationary at a table within the service station if they are consuming a meal or meal-like snack. Despite the availability of junk food, there is vastly more information available about healthy eating and even service stations now offer many more nutritious options than just a few years’ ago.”


Young drivers

Young drivers (aged 18-24) are most likely to eat when driving, with 36% opting for a bag of crisps to see them through their journey. A quarter of the age group have grabbed a snack from a fast food outlet on a journey, too. Despite this, 18-24 year olds most want to see a broad choice of healthier food at services, being concerned by the number of calories and amount of sugar consumed in ‘on-the-go’ food.

Picture: A typical service station.

Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 04 September 2019


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