The out of home environment

Research undertaken to understand the availability, behaviour and attitudes to food eaten outside the home.

Eating out of home extends beyond the sit down meal, and includes the food we eat ‘on the go’ as well as from takeaways. The food and drink we buy and consume from the out of home environment tends to be less healthy, and accounts for 25% of the calories we consume.

Supporting the provision of healthier foods outside the home

To support out of home outlets to provide healthier foods, Public Health Scotland and Food Standards Scotland are developing a voluntary Eating Out, Eating Well Framework and Code of Practice for children’s menus. This is one of the range of interventions included in the Scottish Government’s out of home action plan. Research was carried out with a range of small and independent outlets in Scotland to inform the development of the framework.

Most recent report:

Monitoring food and drink purchases outside the home

Food Standards Scotland publishes data on the out of home food and drink landscape, including how this environment has changed over time, the types of businesses visited and the most popular foods and drinks purchased OOH. We have also undertaken research to explore the levels of trans and saturated fatty acids in foods available in takeaway establishments.

Most recent reports:

Previous reports:

In 2019 £4.6billion was spent eating out of home, with takeaways accounting  for 11% of trips

Menu calorie labelling 

Mandating calorie labelling at the point of choice can support the out of home sector to make a key contribution in improving our dietary health. It is one of the range of interventions to improve the out of home food environment announced in the Scottish Government’s out of home action plan in September 2021. The plan builds on the commitments made in the 2018 diet and healthy weight delivery plan and recommendations made by Food Standards Scotland to Scottish Ministers in 2019.

Availability of nutrition information and the use of marketing strategies outside the home

To address a gap in our evidence base, we have commissioned bespoke research to understand the availability of online nutrition information and the use of marketing strategies by branded out of home businesses in Scotland.


Monitoring the nutritional content of food and drinks outside the home

Limited data exists around the nutritional content of foods and drinks available outside the home. As part of Scottish Government’s out of home action plan, Food Standards Scotland have been tasked with developing a monitoring and evaluation strategy to assess the impact of the suite of measures stated in the plan. Longer term, this will include calorie reduction as the key indicator of success.

The below research supports monitoring of the nutritional content of food and drinks available outside the home:

Attitudes towards improving the out of home environment

In November 2019, Food Standards Scotland consulted on ‘Proposals to Improve the OOH environment in Scotland’.  An independent analysis of responses to this consultation was published after the consultation closed, alongside results from qualitative research with low income consumers. 

Most recent reports:


MenuCal is a free, web-based calorie calculator and allergen management tool which aims to support small and medium food business operators (FBOs) to provide calorie and allergen information on their menus. 

In 2016 we commissioned an evaluation of a pilot of MenuCal conducted in partnership with the Scottish Enforcement Liaison Committee (SFELC) Diet, Nutrition and Health Working Group, in 22 food business operators across six local authorities.