Paper on The Behavioral Perspective of Fast Food in Kuwait
Fast food refers to the production of large amounts of food prepared and served quickly and within a short period. In most cases, the foods are less nutritious and are mostly prepared and served in restaurants either served in an as packed or as take away in which the customer will consume it away from the restaurant or place of purchase. The foods are considered as quick substitutes to home cooked meals and are characterized by a high concentration of sugar, salt, calories, and salt. The restaurants serving fast foods in many cases do not provide for seating or shelter where customers can sit comfortably and partake of their meal. Popular foods prepared and served in fast food restaurants include French fries, hamburger, soft drinks, calamari, and sushi, among others. High consumption of fast foods has been linked to high cholesterol, obesity, and colorectal cancer (Kearney 2794). With the first food chain restaurant in Britain in the early 1860s, the drive through eating places and form of consumption has spread through most cities and town around the world. Among the many eating places around the world specializing in fast foods, include McDonald, KFC, Kentucky, Krystal, Taco Bell, and Francesinha. These names have been synonymous with the fast food industry with presence in many countries all over the world, including cities in the United Arab Emirates, Africa, Europe, and Asian countries. For example, in the Arab cities alone, consumers spend approximately over $250 billion on fast foods. In the United States alone, sales are projected at over $900 billion as at the end of 2015 (Kearney 2796). In fact, in many of the named cities, many good dining restaurants offering healthy and delicious meals have been losing market share to the fast food giants. The amount of consumers frequenting fast foods continues to rise in major cities all over the world.
Background of the Problem
Despite being a Western lifestyle, the consumption of fast foods has spread and been adopted by many Arab countries. According to Karageorgi (23), the increase has seen a decrease in families preparing healthy foods at home and adapting to the easy and quick mode of eating. In Kuwait, the consumption of fast foods has continued to rise despite public awareness on the negative effects of the foods. The high consumption of fast foods has seen a significant rise in chronic ailments, for example, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure. Studies have shown that despite having a robust and reliable house helps, many families relentlessly continue to rely on fast foods for their daily meals. The current study and research seek to analyze, examine, and explore the behavioral perspectives of the restaurants in Kuwait offering fast foods. The major objective of the study is to make out why many Kuwaitis and Kuwaitis families depend on fast foods instead of eating at home regardless of having house help and helpers at home.
The investigation took samples from families through questionnaires and interviews on their consumption and perception of fast foods. Approximately 40 percent were single families, drawn from college graduates, newly employed individuals, and young families. On the other hand, 60 percent were families made up of father, mother, and children. Of the families with children, 40 percent had house help or helpers at home. Approximately 50 percent of the participants had jobs while the remaining 50 percent had no stable jobs. From the results of the study, 70 percent of the participants admitted to eating fast foods for their midday meals while at their places of work. About 30 percent of these were single and newly employed individuals. About 30 percent of the participants agreed to depend on fast foods at least once in the course of the day while away from home. Approximately 40 percent of families with house help or helpers admitted to either partaking on fast at least once in a week as take away to their families or having their meals at a fast food restaurant.
Significance of the Study
The rising number of health complications attributed to fast foods such as obesity amongst children, high blood pressure, and cancer has seen most health organizations question and raise concern on the effects of fast foods (Kearney 2795). According to medical practitioners, fast foods are high on calories, fats, and, salt, which have negative and long-lasting effects on the body. Of particular concern are the rising number of cancer patients and obesity amongst children. The current trend whereby children below 15 years, succumb to cancer-related complications has raised the concern of the dependence on families on fast foods.
Karageorgi (34) assert that the majority of Kuwaitis has neglected the need to observe healthy eating habits and practices such as regular exercise has put a strain on health facilities. Medical practitioners from health facilities within Kuwait such as Hadi Clinic, Al Rashid Hospital, Royale Hayat Hospital, and the New Mowasat Hospital have continuously raised the concern of the high number of patients seeking medication on health complications attributed to the high intake of fats, salts, and sugar. On the other hand, local government leaders have raised concern about the continued rise of fast food restaurant chains within cities and around residential areas. The rise of shopping malls such as the Mitula Homes, Al Hazanna Area, and Al Hazan regions near homes and places of residence has seen many families opting for ready meals instead of foods prepared at home.
Purpose of the Study
The study examines and studies the behavioral perspectives of the fast foods in Kuwait. The major objective of the analysis it to make out why many Kuwaitis prefer fast foods instead of eating at home where they have house help and helpers who can prepare delicious and healthy meals.
According to Alomirah et al (500), the ideology of ready-made foods is closely related to the rapid modernization and westernization spreading across continents. As many economies boomed and young people got jobs in cities, the need for ready foods has risen significantly. The continuous rise of women in offices and business has left them no time to prepare decent meals for their families. Previously considered a luxury, eating out has rapidly spread and become a lifestyle within many families. Working parents, families, and students need quick food service while on the go. Students and workers in major cities of Kuwait often have little time to prepare decent meals, as they tend to have little time at home. On the other hand, Denney-Wilson et al, (448), argue that young families prefer the luxury and fun of eating out, often considered a luxurious lifestyle, helping them spare time for other important engagements at home or in the office. Alomirah et al (499), argues that fast foods have become an easier option for many workers, families, and students who have little time to engage in seeking out healthy and well-prepared meals. Many cities within Kuwait offer meals that range from morning servings, lunch takings, and evening meals.
The evolution of fast food outlets
The evolution of the fast food industry in Kuwait started with the opening of Kuwait Food Company. Although it was later shut down after nearly 13 years of operation, McDonald launched its operations along the Gulf Road (Karageorgi et al, 47). This opened avenues for many fast food restaurants and companies to pitch camp in major cities and streets of Kuwait in the early and mid-1990s (Channanath et al, e75). Although in the early and mid-1990s, restaurants specializing in fast foods such McDonald and Salmiya operated as decent dining restaurants, the entry of Elevation Burger introduced the concept of fast food service in which the restaurant was designed as a walk in walk out food outlet. The Burger Hub and Elevation Burger stimulated the market as many costumers found the food chain luxurious and westernized (Ng 6). Pioneered by the strong operational administration, the fast food chain stores along the streets of Kuwait gained significance and propelled the growth and spread of the food industry.
Although organic food has not been very successful in Kuwait, many families and people never talked about it. The success of Elevation Burger and McDonald enticed many investors into the Kuwait market with the entry of Shake Shark, FatBurger, TABCo, and Slide Station in the early and mid-2006 (Ng 10). The fast food chain of restaurants gained considerable significance towards 2010 as many consumers adopted the Western luxurious lifestyle of eating. Many students and workers found the eateries convenient with their fast pace lifestyle. Due to the strategic location of the fast foods along busy streets such as Gulf Road and shopping malls around the cities, many workers, and families finds the food stores convenient to their fast-paced lifestyle. Of particular significance are young families within and around cities or their working places. The majority of the customers frequenting the food chains site time constraints and a much more westernized living that is slowly becoming a norm amongst many Kuwaitis.
According to studies, fast food trend and growth has gradually taken root within and amongst the majority of Kuwaitis with the market-boosting of over 10 international fast food chains. The brands such as Shake Shack further boosts of over five branches generating over KWD 5 million annually. The rapid rise and transformation of the food industry have pushed prices of food commodities and customer services, a fact that has not deterred consumers from eating at the fast food restaurants. Many consumers cite convenience, good management, and strategic location, tasty and delicious foods as the main factors in seeking foods at the fast food restaurants. For example, the Divone Complex is strategically located close to residential homes and offices, making it easy to access by workers and families.
Many families and workers consider eating in fast food chain stores as a luxury and a modern concept that elevates them to a western lifestyle (Morse 175). Many of the fast food restaurants are further using the social media to reach out to more potential customers, a strategy that has gained a significant portion of students and young families. According to a study by the Global Markets, the majority of the families are lured easily into the western concept of living due to the high penetration of the media. The concentration of the fast food restaurants within residential areas has seen many families lose focus of partaking in preparing foods at home and opt for easy means to fulfilling their appetites (Ng 7).
The central rationale for collecting data was to undertake a group assessment on the reliance of fast foods amongst families, students, and workers in Kuwait. Methods for data collection ranged from the use of questionnaires, interviews, observation, and research from local dailies on the penetration, expansion, an increase of reliance on fast foods amongst the participants. The analysis used 100 questionnaires of which all of them were utilized. Respondents consisted of students, young families, workers, and house helps. The females made up (n=46), and males (n=54) took part in the study. Approximately 35 percent were students, 30 percent newly employed workers, and 35 percent were families with one or two children. Additionally, the families had house help or helpers at home.
Questions in the questionnaire included queries such as;
Do you know of any fast food restaurant within your place of work or home?
Have you ever eaten in a fast food restaurant?
Do you frequent fast food restaurants for your meals?
Do you have a helper at home?
Which are your favorite meals at home and at the fast food restaurant?
Can you go for a whole week without eating at a fast food restaurant?
Would you recommend eating out to your friend or consumption of food at home?
The participants who undertook the questions were selected without a focus on educational level or gender, or social standing. Additionally, the house helps who took part in the study were given a different questionnaire that entailed questions such as;
Do you know what it means by the term fast food restaurant?
How often do you prepare meals at home for the family?
How would you compare foods at the fast food restaurant foods at home?
Would you recommend eating out or eating at home?
Data was also collected from participants by way of interview and face-to-face interaction. The participants were selected from a pool of customers who frequented the fast foods. During the selection, the participants were chosen after several visits to particular fast food restaurants along the major streets of Kuwait and residential areas.
The participants were approached with a request to participant in a voluntary exercise to determine how often they frequent the fast food restaurants. After a detailed and friendly introduction to the subject matter, the participants chose either a face-to-face interview or filling up a questionnaire. The participants were free to choose the best method to use.
The observation was also used to collect data, in which the researcher gathered data by way of observing the frequency of customers at the fast food. The researcher paid close attention to the number of customers attending the fast foods, age, social status, time, and frequency of attendance within a given period.
Questionnaires used were handled with utmost care during and after the data collection. Participants were each given two questionnaires to fill. In total, the questions were 14 in total. The participants who preferred direct interviews had their data recorded for later analysis. Questions were directed to them and they gave their opinions and views. Although some of the participants had difficulty in giving their opinions, data analysts later put together the data with the highest level of accuracy. The recorders were later played and data put into writing by the analysts.
The examiner observed the frequency of attendance; turn up of frequent customers, and how busy the restaurants. The investigator further observed the number of singles and family members who took their meals at the fast food on a daily basis. Additionally, the researcher took note of the types of food most preferred by the customers. All the data collected by observation were put and noted down on notepads and notebooks to be analysts later. The researcher paid close attention to the busy restaurants along the streets, at the malls, and near residential places. The researcher collected the data all through the day and particularly during the meal times.
The data were analyzed by looking at the pattern of frequent, meals taken, most frequent customers, and a number of times a customer took a meal in the fast food restaurant. The data were then compared against a backdrop of information on the regular times of eating at home and before the advent of the fast food restaurants. For example, the researcher took note of how many times a family or worker frequented the fast-food restaurant and how many times they prepared meals at home. Additionally, student’s data would be analyzed by looking at how many times they would have prepared meals at home or in the hostels and the times; they ate at the fast food restaurant. The same applied to workers who took part in the study.
Instruments utilized during the research included subject- completed instruments, which were undertaken and completed by the participants such as the questionnaires. Additionally, the researcher used interview guides. The two instruments offered high levels of accuracy and validity as data could easily be compared with other information in the public domain. For example, participants offered consistent information as related to their rate of frequency at the fast food restaurants. Although the accuracy of their data was later analyzed, measures were put in place to give the probability of inaccuracy.
Since the study involved a sensitive part of healthy living, principled methodologies were used to collect the data to avoid scaring away or frightening the customers due to the negative side effects of the fast foods such as cancer. The researcher, therefore, outlined the questions used for the interview and questionnaires in a way that welcomed response and positive participation of the participants. Additionally, the researcher took caution not to give the impression of portraying the fast food restaurants negatively in the public domain.
From the data collected from the participants, students, young families, and workers made up the most in eating at fast food restaurants. According to the information gathered, the participants noted that taking their meals at the fast food restaurants saved them time and the hassle of preparing meals. Young families particularly noted that eating out at the fast food restaurants had become the norm of civilized lifestyle, which went well with their busy life schedules at the workplace. According to Over, 70 percent of young families took most of their meals at the fast food restaurants, noting their busy schedules at the workplace and lack of time for buying the needed groceries. Out of the 70 percent, over 90 percent were financially stable to afford meals at the fast food restaurants. Among the students, over 80 percent frequented fast food restaurants because of times constraints. The same applied to the workers, whom approximately 85.5 percent takes most of their meals at the fast food restaurants. The result noted that men prefer fast foods most than women by a difference of over 15 percent. The majorities of the workers mostly take their breakfast and lunch preferring to save on time while at the workplace. On the other hand, over 95 percent of the house helps preferred their employers to eat at the fast food restaurant as it helps them relax and avoid the hassle of preparing meals at home. Graph one below, show the percentage of individuals who partake in fast food restaurants on a weekly basis.
Question asked; How often they eat in a fast food restaurant
The results show that a high percentage of Kuwaitis prefer fast food restaurants, particularly due to the modern living standards. Students and workers noted that fast food restaurants help them save on time and the hassle of cleaning utensils at home. Young families, on the other hand, preferred fast food restaurants because of the gradual adoption of Western lifestyles in addition to making the family happy by eating out.
Discussion and Conclusion
According to the findings above, Kuwaitis are gradually getting absorbed into the western lifestyle of fast food addiction considering it as a civilized and modern aspect of the 21st century. Of particular interest is the lack of knowledge of the dangerous side effects of the foods offered at the fast food restaurants. A high number of families continue to get into the notion that eating out is the modern lifestyle and most preferable by many both young and the old.
The spread and adoption of fast food eating by modern families in Kuwait are gradually picking up at a very fast rate. Most families and individuals have come to the realization that fast food restaurants save them on time and energy of preparing meals at home. Since the entry of fast food chain of restaurants in Kuwait in the early 1990s, the growth, and expansion of the industry has expanded into the social lifestyle of the majority of the Kuwaitis. However, the expansion is gradually coming at a time when the majority of the populace has little or no knowledge of the negative side effects of the fast foods such as the rise in cancer and obesity cases.
The study was limited to its collection as the majority of the participants were drawn from specific demographic locations. The study did not involve the majority of Kuwaitis, as the samples were limited due to fear and lack of knowledge of some of the participants who refused to take part in the study. Further research needs to be undertaken to make wide area coverage, including densely populated regions and remote suburbs where the fast foods are making entry.
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