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Health

Study: Burgers, kebabs and fries become German staples

A new report on eating habits in Germany has pointed to a desire for fast food or easy-to-cook meals, with plenty of meat, often eaten in front of the TV or at the desk. Processed meat is already in the news in Europe.

A lack of time, pressure at work, or simply one's "internal, weaker self" overriding the best of intentions were some of the most popular reasons given by Germans who confessed to not eating healthily.

The Forsa study, published on Friday, found that young people and low-earners were particularly guilty of resorting to fast food, ready meals and a daily dose of meat.

Nearly half of the 1,000 people surveyed confessed that their main priority when choosing what to eat was that it tasted good - with young people being the most taste-driven. Men were the most carnivorous, with 58 percent saying they ate meat at least once a day, compared to 39 percent of women surveyed.

The study was commissioned by Germany's partially state-supported health insurer TK, which provides the "entry level" insurance program all German employees are obliged to purchase - albeit with the chance of choosing a private option instead.

"If we want a healthy society that lives more healthily and longer, we must take more care over what we eat and how we eat," TK boss Dr. Jens Baas said. "We can - and must make progress in both areas."

No time for lunch

People pointed to stress in the workplace and limitations on their time as a primary cause of poor eating habits.

"One third of all full-time workers complained that it was simply not possible to eat healthily at work," Forsa's Professor Manfred Güllner said.

Rather than following the "little and often" approach considered healthiest, 30 percent of women and 47 percent of men said that they would usually eat a large evening meal at home after consuming very little during the working day. One third of participants in the survey also said that they would usually eat their evening meal in front of the television or the computer - a trend that is more common among singles than families.

Only half of those surveyed said they ate at least one home-cooked meal per day. Fast food and supermarket "ready-made" meals were establishing themselves on the German menu instead.

On the other hand, 55 percent of women and 44 percent of men claimed to keep a close eye on what they ate. Three quarters of the women surveyed and half of the men considered their eating habits healthy, with 80 percent of participants saying they ate vegetables at least three times a week.

Eating habits, especially pertaining to fast food and cheap, processed meat, have come under considerable scrutiny in Europe in recent weeks amid a widening scandal involving horse meat in products labeled as beef.

msh/tm (AFP, dpa)