Fast food in Ghana’s restaurants: prevalence, characteristics, and relevance : an interdisciplinary perspective

R. Omari

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU

Abstract

Abstract

Fast food has been extensively criticised for its link to health and environments problems and for its tendency to undermine traditional food cultures. Notwithstanding these aspects, this study questioned the assumption that fast food by definition has negative impact on health, environment and traditional food cultures for three main reasons. Firstly, fast-food restaurants are spreading quickly in the Accra Metropolitan Area (AMA) of Ghana and have become an important source of urban food. Secondly, fast food in Ghana is undergoing various changes, such as the introduction of healthier food options, use of environmentally friendly packaging and the incorporation of local cultural features. Thirdly, there has been ambiguity in the definition of fast food in existing literature, which is often exclusively built upon practices in Western, modernised countries and hence has determined how fast food is normatively evaluated. Moreover, evidence shows that some of the characteristics of fast food used in these definitions are changing, as well as being perceived differently in various regions or sociocultural settings. Against this background, this thesis sought to clarify what constitutes fast food in Ghanaian restaurants, assess its prevalence and explore its characteristics and relevance for urban food provisioning, health improvement and tourism development. An interdisciplinary and a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches were used to gather data for a restaurant study to assess the availability and characteristics of fast food in the AMA using the cuisine concept as an analytical framework. The same approaches were used to gather data for a consumer study to explain how (i) convenience influences fast-food consumption, (ii) identity influences fast-food consumption and (iii) personal responsibility influences fast-food purchase, consumption and waste disposal decisions. Findings indicated that the core food items present in fast-food restaurants are menu items such as foods generally recognised as fast food (FGRAFF), including fried rice, fried chicken, burgers, pizzas and French fries, as well as common Ghanaian foods such as banku and kelewele. Interestingly, the FGRAFFs have been transformed in several ways mainly by the incorporation of aspects of the Ghanaian food culture. Most people eat fast food because of their desire to save time, mental and physical effort, as well as because of the inherent convenience attributes of fast food. Findings also showed that people consume fast food because of its role in identity formation and expression whereby eating in a fast-food restaurant is a way to be connected with what is new and unique, pleasurable and associated with social interaction and sensory and health values. Strikingly, findings showed that fast-food consumers do not only eat fast food for convenience and identity expression, but that they are also reflective about the health and environmental anxieties that might come along with the social practice of consumption. Therefore, consumers may adopt loyalty or exit strategies as a way of reducing the effects of the health and environmental anxieties on themselves and society as a whole. This study has shown that some consumers would prefer to adopt loyalty strategies, implying that fast food provides some major material, social, cultural and behavioural benefits for these consumers and so they may not choose to curtail their fast-food consumption. Therefore, for nutrition and health intervention programmes to be effective, there is a clear need to adopt more holistic approaches by incorporating material, social, cultural and behavioural aspects of food into formal programmes.

 

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Wiskerke, Han, Promotor
  • Ruivenkamp, Guido, Promotor
  • Jongerden, Joost, Co-promotor
Award date20 Nov 2014
Place of PublicationWageningen
Publisher
Print ISBNs9789462572584
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • fast foods
  • consumption
  • fast food restaurants
  • convenience foods
  • consumer behaviour
  • characteristics
  • health
  • interdisciplinary research
  • ghana

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