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Greater share of employed adults ate at sit-down restaurants and bought fast food

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Time use diaries reveal that on an average day during 2003-11, 19.5 percent of Americans age 18 and older ate at a sit-down restaurant and 13 percent purchased fast food or carryout food. Men were more likely than women to eat at a sit-down restaurant (20.4 versus 18.5 percent) and purchase fast food (13.5 versus 12.5 percent). The largest difference in eating out patterns was between employed and not employed adults in their purchases of fast food—15.2 percent of employed adults purchased fast food versus 8.8 percent of adults that were not employed (those actively looking for work and those who are retired, in school, or not looking for work). Income plays a role, but time constraints may be more of a factor for those working. On an average day, employed persons spent less time eating and drinking beverages, sleeping, and watching television, and they spent more time traveling from place to place due to their work schedules, suggesting that they may be more time pressured than others and use fast foods as a time-saving option. This chart appears in the ERS report, The Role of Time in Fast-Food Purchasing Behavior in the United States.

U.S. food sales evenly split between at-home and away-from-home markets

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

In 2013, spending at grocery stores and other retailers accounted for 50.4 percent of the $1.4 trillion spent on food and beverages by U.S. consumers, businesses, and government entities. The remaining 49.6 percent took place at restaurants, school cafeterias, food concession stands at movie theaters and ball parks, and other away-from-home eating places. In 1960, the away-from-home market had a 26.3-percent share of total food expenditures, and its share has grown through the decades except in some recession years. Most recently, food-away-from-home’s share of total food spending fell from 49.1 percent in 2007 and did not rebound to its pre-recession share until 2012. Two-earner households and busier lifestyles have led consumers to spend less time cooking and seek the convenience of food prepared away from home. This chart appears in the ERS data product, Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials. More information on U.S. food sales and expenditures can be found in ERS’s Food Expenditures data product.

Restaurants offered the most sodium-dense foods in 2005-08

Friday, March 22, 2013

Intake data from the 2005-08 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) reveal that Americans age 2 and older consumed an average of 3,085 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day, higher than the current Federal recommendation of less than 2,300 mg per day. Home foods—those obtained at supermarkets, convenience stores, and other retail outlets—provided 68 percent of Americans’ daily calories and 64 percent of sodium intake. Foods purchased from restaurants with wait staff were the most sodium dense at 2,151 mg of sodium per 1,000 calories, followed by fast-food fare at 1,864 mg per 1,000 calories. Home foods had a lower sodium density than away from home foods. The data for this chart came from “Americans’ Food Choices at Home and Away: How Do They Compare With Recommendations?” in the February 2013 issue of ERS’s Amber Waves magazine.

Away from home eating accounts for a larger share of Americans' calories

Friday, February 1, 2013

Intake data from the 2005-08 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) reveal that Americans age 2 and older consumed an average of 2,002 calories per day, with 68 percent of those calories coming from at-home foods obtained at supermarkets, convenience stores, and other retail outlets. Thirty years ago, at-home foods accounted for 82 percent of U.S. caloric intake. Between 1977 and 2008, the share of calories from foods purchased at restaurants with wait staff doubled from 3.3 to 6.7 percent and fast-food places’ share grew from 3.1 to 13.2 percent. School’s share of total caloric intake rose from 3.0 to 3.7 percent. This chart appears in the ERS report, Nutritional Quality of Food Prepared at Home and Away From Home, 1977-2008, EIB-105, December 2012. See also the blog post in USDA’s Science Tuesday series.

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