The food options in the US are more varied than ever before.
Takeout, a restaurant-style lunch delivery service, has been gaining popularity, with more than half of Americans ordering takeout in the last year.
However, it is still a niche market, with some outlets catering to only a small subset of the country’s population.
According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, only about half of American consumers are satisfied with takeout meals, and many are not ready to abandon the fast food culture in favour of a healthier meal plan.
While the research suggests the country is moving towards a healthier eating pattern, the study also found that most consumers prefer to eat healthy, at least when it comes to their diet.
The study surveyed a sample of more than 1,000 US adults aged 18 and over.
The survey found that 63% of Americans say they would eat healthier if they had the choice.
The researchers say it is time to look beyond food options for eating out.
“The idea that eating out is a good way to meet people is not universally accepted,” Dr John Fudenberg, senior author of the study, told the BBC.
“The research suggests that eating healthy is an important part of healthy eating.”
“A healthy diet is about being active, being active with your family, having regular physical activity and getting plenty of physical activity,” Dr Fudenburg said.
“I think that’s an important way to look at what is the best way to have healthy eating, which is definitely not food.”
“The researchers suggest that eating at a restaurant, or other restaurant-type food service, could help the majority of Americans feel more satisfied.”
Dr Fudberg said that although he was not an expert on the issue, the research suggested there is room for improvement.
While a number of studies have suggested that restaurants are serving too much food, the majority agree that the vast majority of takeout customers have health concerns, he said.
“I’m a big proponent of healthy food, but I think that there are other options,” Dr Tania DeLeon, a nutrition researcher at the University of Maryland, said.
“A lot of people would like to eat healthfully but not necessarily get enough exercise.”
Dr DeLeon said the study was not meant to suggest that fast food restaurants should close.
She also pointed out that people could simply choose to have healthier eating habits, which could also reduce the amount of food they buy at fast food places.
“You can just go to a restaurant and try to eat healthier,” Dr DeLeon told the ABC.
In some countries, fast food outlets are not required to serve healthy food.
Dr Fidenberg said there is still work to be done on improving the food choices available to consumers.
He said while the research showed a shift in preferences in the fast-food industry, there is no guarantee that this trend will continue.
“We know that a lot of consumers are getting healthier,” he said, adding that this would not necessarily mean a shift towards healthier eating.
“There’s still a lot that people can do, but it’s not going to be enough.”