Over half of UK drivers admit to eating fast food on long journeys*, according to new research by SEAT.
More than 63%* of Brits have caved 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.
Even though three quarters of Brits are put off from purchasing food at motorway services due to cost, they admit they still buy snacks and treats due to convenience. Overall, sweets come out on top as Britain’s favourite snack when driving, with over a third grabbing a bag of confectionery 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.
Richard Harrison, Managing Director 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, potentially boosting mood and concentration levels. 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 (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.
Across the country, drivers in the East Midlands are most likely to reach for a bag of sweets at the tills for their journey (41%); the Welsh enjoy a bag of crisps the most (24%) and Londoners usually opt for a chocolate bar (23%).