Publications

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  • 2014 Farm Act Maintains SNAP Eligibility Guidelines and Funds New Initiatives

    Amber Waves, July 07, 2014

    The Agricultural Act of 2014 maintains SNAP’s basic eligibility guidelines and includes provisions designed to encourage SNAP recipients to choose healthy foods and to build the skills needed to increase their employment options. Other provisions aim to improve the food environment at schools and in low-income communities.

  • 2014-16 Eating & Health Module User's Guide (2016 Edition)

    AP-070, May 17, 2016

    The 2014-16 Eating & Health Module User's Guide (2016 Edition) provides detailed guidance to researchers on how to use the Module to measure time use and eating patterns.

  • A Closer Look at Declining Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Using Linked Data Sources

    Amber Waves, July 05, 2016

    Researchers linked ERS's food availability data with food intake survey data to break down national food and vegetable consumption trends by age, gender, education level, income, and race/ethnic background. They found that declines in fruit and vegetable consumption—driven by falling consumption of orange juice, potatoes and head lettuce—have been steeper for some demographic groups than for others.

  • A Comparison of Household Food Security in Canada and the United States

    ERR-67, December 29, 2008

    Using nationally representative surveys from the United States and Canada, ERS compares rates of food insecurity in economic and demographic subgroups of the two countries.

  • A Dietary Assessment of the U.S. Food Supply: Comparing Per Capita Food Consumption with Food Guide Pyramid Serving Recommendations

    AER-772, December 01, 1998

    Most American diets do not meet Federal Food Guide Pyramid dietary recommendations. On average, people consume too many servings of added fats and sugars and too few servings of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, lean meats, and foods made from whole grains--compared with a reference set of Food Guide Pyramid serving recommendations appropriate to the age and gender composition of the U.S. population. In addition, while the healthfulness of diets has improved over time, the pace of improvement has been uneven. For example, while Americans consumed record amounts of fruits and vegetables in 1996, consumption of caloric sweeteners also reached a 27-year high. This report is the first dietary assessment to use ERS's time-series food supply data to compare average diets with Federal dietary recommendations depicted in the Food Guide Pyramid. Food Guide Pyramid servings were estimated for more than 250 agricultural commodities for 1970-96. New techniques were developed to adjust the data for food spoilage and other losses accumulated throughout the marketing system and the home.

  • A Look at Calorie Sources in the American Diet

    Amber Waves, December 05, 2016

    According to ERS’s loss-adjusted food availability data, total calories per person decreased by 2 percent between 2000 and 2010. In both years, grains were the primary contributor to daily calories per capita.

  • A Sampling of What’s Trending in Americans’ Fruit and Vegetable Choices

    Amber Waves, March 07, 2016

    A new infographic from USDA’s Economic Research Service spotlights some of the upward and downward trending fruits and vegetables among U.S. consumers.

  • Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food-Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences: Report to Congress

    AP-036, June 25, 2009

    This report fills a request for a study of food deserts-areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food-from the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. The report summarizes findings of a national-level assessment of the extent and characteristics of food deserts, analysis of the consequences of food deserts, lessons learned from related Federal programs, and a discussion of policy options for alleviating the effects of food deserts. Overall, findings show that a small percentage of consumers are constrained in their ability to access affordable nutritious food because they live far from a supermarket or large grocery store and do not have easy access to transportation.

  • Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Updated Estimates of Distance to Supermarkets Using 2010 Data

    ERR-143, November 28, 2012

    ERS updates data on spatial access to affordable, healthy food, measuring distance to the nearest supermarkets for the U.S. population and considering factors like vehicle ownership and income level of households and areas.

  • Access to Affordable, Nutritious Food Is Limited in “Food Deserts”

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    A small percentage of U.S. households live in “food deserts,” where access to a supermarket or large grocery store is a problem. Low-income residents of these neighborhoods and those who lack transportation tend to rely more on smaller neighborhood stores that may not carry healthy foods or offer them only at higher prices, which increases the risks of poor diets or food insecurity.

  • Agricultural Policies Have Little Effect on U.S. Calorie Consumption

    Amber Waves, December 03, 2012

    Many observers speculate that agricultural policies contribute to increased U.S. obesity rates by making certain commodities more abundant and therefore cheaper. However, a recent study finds that the effects of farm subsidies, when combined with the effects of other agricultural policies that restrict supply such as acreage set-asides or import barriers, have little impact on average calorie consumption.

  • America's Eating Habits: Changes and Consequences

    AIB-750, May 01, 1999

    Individual chapters in this book provide different perspectives on the nutrition problem in the United States: what are the economic costs associated with unhealthy eating patterns; how do dietary patterns compare with dietary recommendations; how do national income and prices, advertising, health claims, and trends in eating away from home affect nutrient intake; how much do people know about nutrition and how does nutrition knowledge and attitudes affect intake of fats and cholesterol; how do different government programs and regulations influence food expenditures and consumption; what are some public and private efforts to improve healthy eating; and what are potential impacts of healthier eating on domestic agriculture.

  • Americans Are More Realistic About the Quality of Their Diets

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    Presumably, Americans are more realistic today about their diet quality because they have greater knowledge of what constitutes a healthy diet. In 2005-06, 79 percent of U.S. adults had heard of the Food Guide Pyramid, up from 33 percent in 1994, and 51 percent knew about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, up from 30 percent in 1994.

  • Americans Can Satisfy Dietary Guidelines for Vegetables and Fruit for Under $2.50 Per Day

    Amber Waves, March 14, 2011

    In 2008, Americans on a 2,000-calorie diet could purchase the Dietary Guidelines-recommended quantity and variety of both fruit and vegetables for between $2.00 and $2.50 per day, or roughly 50 cents per edible cup equivalent.

  • Americans More Realistic About Their Diet Quality

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2012

    Research has suggested that Americans view their diets too optimistically, underestimating the amount of calories in their diets, for example, or overestimating the nutritional value. Recent work by ERS suggests that, in recent years, such "optimistic bias" may be on the wane.

  • Americans Not Drinking Milk as Often as Their Parents Did

    Amber Waves, September 03, 2013

    Since 1970, per capita consumption of fluid milk in the U.S. has fallen from almost 1 cup (8 fl. oz.) to 0.6 cups per day. Contributing to the trend are differences in the eating and drinking habits of newer and older generations.

  • Americans Switch From Fresh to Frozen Potatoes

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2006

    While potatoes have been a mainstay of the American diet for generations, how potatoes are eaten has changed dramatically. In 1960, Americans consumed a yearly average of 81 pounds of fresh potatoes and 7.6 pounds of frozen potatoes. In 2004, the average American consumed 46.5 pounds of fresh potatoes and 56.4 pounds of frozen potatoes, mainly french fries. Taste, convenience, technology, and the growing away-from-home market have all played a role.

  • Americans' Eating Patterns and Time Spent on Food: The 2014 Eating & Health Module Data

    EIB-158, July 28, 2016

    ERS analyzed food and food-related time use patterns by factors such as income level and participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

  • Americans’ Food Choices at Home and Away: How Do They Compare With Recommendations?

    Amber Waves, February 21, 2013

    Grocery store purchase data reveal that Americans underspend on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and overspend on refined grains, fats, and sugars/sweets, compared with USDA's dietary recommendations, a pattern that showed little change from 1998 to 2006. Food choices when eating out are even more of a nutritional concern.

  • Americans’ Seafood Consumption Below Recommendations

    Amber Waves, October 03, 2016

    According to ERS’s loss-adjusted food availability data, U.S. seafood consumption in 2014 averaged 2.7 ounces per week, about one-third of the recommended minimum of 8 ounces per week.