Consumers in China are choosing convenience over health as a result of the economic downturn and long working hours.

People are spending more on convenience food, such as frozen ready meals, and less on fresh food, according to the results of two polls that compared last year’s at-home and dining out habits with this year’s.

ACNielsen Homescan Services director Fanny Chan Ying-fong told the South China Morning Post that the recession had brought economic pressures to average families and that social traditions such as a home-cooked traditional family dinner were being affected.

People who ate at home are buying around 20% more convenience and frozen foods than last year, while spending on fresh food fell 19% in the same period.

A different ACNielsen survey found that around 22% of people were dining out less than they did a year ago due to economic factors. Around 13% of people eat out more often but tend to frequent cheaper and more convenient venues such as teahouses and fastfood outlets.