Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB-19) 16 pp

October 2006

Let's Eat Out: Americans Weigh Taste, Convenience, and Nutrition

Whether eating out or buying carry-out, Americans are consuming more and more of their calories from full-service and fast-food restaurant fare. The share of daily caloric intake from food purchased and/or eaten away from home increased from 18 percent to 32 percent between the late 1970s and the middle 1990s, and the away-from-home market grew to account for about half of total food expenditures in 2004, up from 34 percent in 1974. Analysis of a survey of U.S. consumers indicates that respondents want convenience and an enjoyable dining experience, but the desire for health also plays a role as does diet-health knowledge.

Keywords: Consumer preferences, diet-health knowledge, eating out, food away from home, imperfect information, restaurant foods, rules of thumb

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