Sample Essay on Research Methodology

Research Methodology

Introduction

Lebanon is located in the Middle East, neighboring the Mediterranean Sea, Israel, and Syria. Lebanon has a peculiar background, which have influenced their food as the most wide spread in the Middle East. From colonial rule, trade, and indigenous food, Lebanese foods remain the most desired internationally. Untamed demand has led to rise in restaurants in the region. Little research has been carried out on the influence of fast foods on obesity and weight gain in Liberia. This study seeks to find out the impact of Lebanese fast foods on weight gain and obesity. The study will be conducted through a questionnaire, observational study, and semi-structured interview.

Task 1 (Questionnaire)

To carry out this task, participants were randomly picked from the streets. Adults and children from eight years were allowed to fill in and answer specific questions concerning the study. Adults ranging from 25- 42 years were randomly selected to fill in the required data after giving their consent. Equal numbers of participants, male and female were from the picked respondents. To determine the background of the respondents, all participants had to state whether they are visitors or Lebanese. Adults had to fill in their gender, age, and household income after giving their oral consent, in addition to a written consent that was given by all the participants. Initially, 278 people were randomly picked from the crowd. However, due to the set standards before commencing the interview, the number of respondents drastically reduced to 100 people. The questionnaire had to be passed to respondents for the sake of giving their consent, thus, parents signed the consent form on behalf of the participating children. It was however clear from the onset that any personal information concerning the respondents remained confident throughout the study. The information acquired was used in the research. The participants received a questionnaire and were free to answer only the possible questions. A set of questions is included below.

  1. What is your gender and approximate age?
  2. Where do you reside?
  • What is your annual personal/ family income?
  1. Do you like personal time or you prefer social gatherings?
  2. a) Do you eat fast foods or you prefer homemade food?
  3. b) If yes how many times a week?
  4. c) If yes, which is your preferred eating joint?
  5. d) Do you eat alone or you prefer eating in a group?
  6. Which is your best fast food?
  • Which restaurant are you likely to eat from at any time? Why?
  • What are the main features of Lebanese fast foods?
  1. How can you rate Lebanese fast foods?
  2. Is there a high demand of fast foods in Lebanon?
  3. Which age group prefers Lebanese foods?
  • Where do you enjoy eating your food?
  1. At home
  2. In common public places
  3. In restaurants and cafeterias
  • How do you find out foods offered at the restaurants?
  • Are children’s meals included in the fast foods offered at the restaurants?
  1. How do you rate fast foods in the restaurants?

The method was found to be time consuming, because several respondents had to fill in the questionnaires. Fortunately, finding respondents was easy due to the hospitality and friendliness nature of the residents. Therefore, more people were willing to answer the questions and further comment on the most popular fast foods. It was however difficult to obtain the desired number of children to answer these questions because most of the children met had limited knowledge on writing and reading. It was also tiresome explaining the purpose of the research to the parents, who were at times skeptical.

Task 2

Lebanese traditional foods are considered as the most delicious internationally due to the wide cultural exchange the indigenous have had with the rest of the world in the past. From the observational study carried out, Lebanese fast foods have resulted to increased weight gain and obesity among the consumers. Different categories of participants took part in this study. Children aged 8-12 years, adolescents aged 13- 18 and adults aged 25-42 years. An Observational study was carried out on some of the best-known restaurants at different times of the day to observe the daily activities in Beirut. These restaurants are Barbar, Kababji, Malak Al Taouk, Abu’Shanab, and Kahwet Leila. The main idea was to observe the trend of the customers and the kind of foods served at different meal times of the day. It is worthy to note that fast menu items and marketing strategies changed frequently according to the product demands and the market orientation.

It was rare to find a person eating alone in a restaurant, as food was culturally related to socialization. Hence, residents preferred eating as a group. Additionally, the public visited restaurants more often in varied times of the day. This meant that in every social gathering, at least two groups of people were enjoying their meals, apart from adolescents who kept their own companies. Majority of the women who came to meet with their friends came with children. Therefore, foods served had to incorporate children food. Fascinatingly, all the major restaurants I visited were near full of customers throughout day as from 8:00 in the morning. Adolescents and adults ate fast foods at least twice every week. From the observation carried out, more than half the adolescents and adults residing in the urban areas were more likely to consume fast foods than the rest of the population who resided in the outer regions. This observation was also similar to families who reside within Beirut.

Observantly, there were billboards and other forms of advertisement, which dealt a lot with the sumptuousness, and varieties of the food served, there was little or no information on the amount of calories on those foods. In fact, children’s foods have majorly been a side meal of apples and French fries. Instead of healthy children’s beverages, sugary drinks are continually advertised. In as much as side beverages for the children have been on the increase, limited restaurants offered quality and nutritious children meals. Other children’s meals have failed to meet the food industry’s standards as empty calories from saturated fats and added sugar dominates children’s meals. As a result, a healthy food for the children was rare within the restaurants. Parents need therefore to be informed and order fruit juices for the children instead of fountain drinks to replace milk. Foods like sandwiches are more nutritious than most of the fried items, and difficult to find in the fast foods restaurants in Lebanon. Foods with high calories and high sodium content are beneficial to the body. It was observed that most of the meals within the restaurants had high fat content due to the nature of the foods. For instance, in taking meat, it had to come from lamb and was either fried or grilled. Plant foods such as lentils were considered poor man’s food and hence few people in the society appreciated its nutritive content. Children were also included in the kind of foods the economically stable ate. Furthermore, due to limited education on nutritive value and health, most of the parents desired their children to take the same kinds of food they ate, which is detrimental to the health of the children as fats build up

Lebanese fast foods are roughly related to traditional foods, as all major types of foods are included. These foods are deep-fried and roasted, which requires sufficient oil for proper cooking. It was noted that customers are served a wide range of foods starting from the small savory dishes like salads and pastries. Grilled fish or meat followed the salads and completed with Arabic coffee or traditional sweet were the major foods served in most of the restaurants. From the menus of the visited restaurants, some foods domineered than others. For instance, it was realized that pizza and coffee were common in some restaurants than others. Fast food restaurants had extensive menus with diverse foods. The researcher acquired menu items and their nutrition information from the menu on the websites of the restaurants. The acquired menus were additionally significant in the evaluation of nutrition content of advertised products.

Lebanese valued fast foods due to their traditional values, social culture, and content. However, these foods were realized to be high in calories, sodium, and sugar. It is also observed that more of the regular menus had empty calories in the fast foods. In ordinary instances, an ordinary meal of a dish, side meal, and beverage had the required amount of calories and nutrients. Maximum calories for children consumption at a main sitting is 650, for adolescents is 350 and for adults should be 500, while the maximum sodium intake should be 720. In Lebanon, several dishes are served at a time, depending on the time of day and the desires of the customers. Therefore, customers end up eating more than the required portions of food due to cultural setting.

Transport cost was high in carrying out the study. Moving from one restaurant to another was costly as these restaurants are distance apart. Specific time for observational study had to be met and this added to the personal expenses. It was also time consuming, as the study had to be taken at specific time within a given period. Due to domineering of some foods in some fast restaurant foods, it became difficult to compare the nutritional impact of their foods with more traditional fast food restaurants. Since Lebanon is advancing, it was difficult to carry out the observational study on other parts of the nation. Therefore, the visited restaurants were among the best in the nation and located in the urban region. There is therefore need for advanced research to determine the number of fast foods in the rural regions and their impact to residents’ health. The study could not evaluate activities as they happened in other locations within a given time. Hence, all the information given relates only to specific restaurant at a given time. This was limiting, as comparisons cannot be carried out.

Task 3 (Semi-Structured Interview)

In this task, semi-structured interview was carried out on two respondents. One is a constant customer at one of the renowned restaurants while the other is one of the owners of the fast food restaurants. Before carrying out this interview, the researcher had to request for permission and have an appointment with the respondents. Both written and oral consent were later acquired for the interview to carry on. The respondents allowed the interview to be applied in research work and for future development of hotel industry in Lebanon. Consent was also given to use tape recorder and note taking for recoding the interview. For the purposes of confidentiality, both the names of the respondents and the restaurants highlighted in the interview were hidden.

Interview assumed different sets of questions due to the desired information from the interviewees. Among the questions asked to the customer, include:

  1. How can you rate Lebanese traditional foods to the rest of the foods offered in the country?
  2. Why do you prefer to eat at fast foods instead of meals prepared at home?
  • Are there any challenges do you at time face when eating out as compared to when eating at home?
  1. Which is your favorite food at the restaurant?
  2. What changes have you noted in your life ever since you started eating fast foods?

The first respondent is a male visitor working with one of the non-governmental organizations in the region. The customer rated Lebanese foods the best among the Egyptian, Turkeys, and Greece traditional meals. Hence, as he consumes the food, he enjoys a variety of traditional foods in different forms. Most of the dishes are made of meat, fish, and chicken, in addition to traditional foods. He enjoys eating out with his Lebanese colleagues who he terms as his present family. He enjoys deep fried and roasted foods served at the restaurants, which he defines as the best cuisine he enjoys when he is far from home. From the snacks served, he becomes satisfied as the foods are especially prepared by deep-frying and roasting.

Questions expressed to the business owner included:

  1. How do you gauge fast food restaurant business in Lebanon?
  2. How do you attract your customers to your business?
  • How do you maintain your customers?
  1. What are the challenges and benefits of running such a business?
  2. Who are your most valued customers?
  3. When are you likely to gain in business?
  • What is the cost of running the business?
  • What benefits do you obtain from the government and other authorities?
  1. What other alternatives do you have apart from running a fast food restaurant?

The second respondent is a business owner of a chain of restaurants in Beirut. Her business has prospered due to increased demand for fast foods. The respondent prefers to develop her enterprise within the nation due to the receptive tradition and culture of the people. She spends much of her profits in advertising to keep up with her competitors. It is worthwhile to note that despite the arid area, vegetables and fruits are easily available within the land. Therefore, the business has high prospects of developing in the future. The government however needs to improve security and manage other incentives. It is additionally necessary to advertise the Lebanese tradition to international market for more business ventures.

The data collection method is beneficial in this study since it was complicated to acquire opportunities for continuous interviews. A clear set of instructions is set prior to the interview for reliable and comparable data. Therefore, presence of a tape recorder in this case was an added advantage as information could later be transcript in the future for analysis. It was difficult writing down all the information as the respondent was answering and conducting the interview at the same time. Therefore, tape recorder was highly significant in this study. Preparation of the questions prior the interview was a mark of competency for the interviewer. This form of data collection enabled the respondents to express themselves in their own ways and offer reliable qualitative data.

By carrying out this study, the public is enlightened on the nutritive value of the foods consumed and the impact these foods have on their bodies. The government is additionally enlightened on the impact of advertisements of fast foods without prior nutritive inclusion. From the varied data collected, it is apparent that Lebanese foods range among the best cuisine worldwide. This is attributed by the enrichment of the culture by other cultures. From the health department, more patients are presently diagnosed with obesity and weight related complications. This study remains significant as it highlights the pointer for increased health complications. From the given information, the government through the health department can educate people on the significance of eating healthy foods irrespective of the cultural background and traditions. People can be trained on maintaining healthy weight by reading the nutritional content of the foods consumed and reducing their frequency of eating out.

The government through its agency can regulate the restaurants and all fast food joints in Lebanon to consider the nutritive value of the foods they offer especially to children who are at high risks of developing weight related complications are a high rate. The Lebanese government can additionally ensure that they regulate the terms used in advertising foods. Instead of attracting people to risky foods, the government is to ensure that all the advertised foods include nutritive value of the foods they advertise. Parents should thus be aware of the content consumed by their children.

Conclusion

Lebanon is of one of the unique regions endowed with rich cuisine, which has resulted to increased numerous cafes and restaurants in the region. Increased presence of fast foods had further led to increased obesity and weight gain, which is an international health crisis. From the first task, respondents look forward to enjoying fast foods, as it is perceived as a traditional meal. Lebanese culture made it possible to collect information, as the residents were hospitable and social. Through observational studies, Lebanese prefer to eat as a group instead of individuals. Tradition plays a significant role in the kinds of food Lebanese eat, which has resulted to their weight gain and obesity complications. Semi-structured interview is significant as the public is enlightened on the nutritive value of fast foods. It is essential to include nutritional content of foods in the adverts.