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Documentation

This page provides the following information:

Survey objectives

The objective of the Eating and Health (EH) Module of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) is to collect data to analyze relationships among time use patterns and eating patterns, nutrition, and obesity; food and nutrition assistance programs; and grocery shopping and meal preparation.

One of the missions of USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) is to enhance the understanding of economic issues related to the nutrition and health of the U.S. population. Data collection and research on eating patterns, Body Mass Index (BMI), food and nutrition assistance program participation, program income eligibility, grocery shopping, and meal preparation all contribute to this goal. Specifically, the economic analysis of decisions made under constraints—in this case, time—provides insight for both policies and programs because the decisions individuals make on how to use their 24 hours in a day have short- and long-run implications for income and earnings, health, and other aspects of well-being.

ERS, along with USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), funded the survey, and NIH's National Cancer Institute (NCI) provided technical assistance. FNS works to end hunger and obesity through the administration of 15 federal nutrition assistance programs including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and school meal programs. In partnership with State and Tribal governments, FNS programs serve one in four Americans during the course of a year. Working with public, private, and non-profit partners, FNS’s mission is to increase food security and reduce hunger by providing children and low-income people access to food, a healthful diet, and nutrition education in a way that supports American agriculture and inspires public confidence. 

The Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at NCI has a long history of research and surveillance activities concerning health behaviors, such as diet, weight, and physical activity, that are linked to multiple health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and stroke. Recent evidence indicates that obesity and sedentary behavior are risk factors for cancer.

Module questions

The 2014-16 EH Module asks ATUS respondents about secondary eating—that is, eating while doing another activity; soft drink consumption; grocery shopping preferences and fast food purchases; meal preparation and food safety practices; food assistance participation; general health, height & weight, and exercise; and income. A short version of the Module questions is available. A text version of the EH Module survey instrument is also available (see Eating & Health Module 2014-16 Questionnaire 16x16 - PDF).

Module microdata

Each year of the 2014-16 Module microdata has three files that can be downloaded from the BLS website.

EH Respondent file

The EH Respondent file contains information on EH respondents, including variables about grocery shopping, meal preparation, food assistance participation, general health, height and weight, exercise, and household income.

EH Activity file

The EH Activity file contains information on respondents' secondary eating.

EH Replicate Weights file

The EH Replicate Weights file contains the replicate weights that can be used to calculate standard errors and variances for EH Module estimates.

Module data dictionary

The data dictionary lists all the variables available on the three microdata files and their valid values.

User's Guide

The 2014-16 Eating & Health Module User's Guide provides technical information about the data.

Recommended citations

Economic Research Service (ERS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Eating and Health Module (ATUS). http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/eating-and-health-module-(atus).aspx.

Publications and research reports based on the 2014 Eating & Health Module data should include the following suggested citation:

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Economic Research Service (ERS). 2014 Eating & Health Module: Machine-readable microdata files, supplement to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2014 American Time Use Survey, May 2016: http://www.bls.gov/tus/ehdatafiles.htm

For 2006-08 EH Module data:

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Economic Research Service (ERS). 2006-08 Eating & Health Module: Machine-readable microdata files, supplement to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2006-08 American Time Use Survey, released May 2008 (2006 data), February 2009 (2007 data), and April 2010 (2008 data).

Archived 2006-08 documentation

See EH Module Documentation: 2006-08 16x16 - PDF.

Last updated: Tuesday, May 17, 2016

For more information contact: Karen Hamrick