Food Away from Home

Consumption of food prepared away from home plays an increasingly large role in the diets of U.S. consumers. A number of factors contributed to the trend of increased dining out since the 1970s, including a larger share of women employed outside the home, more two-earner households, higher incomes, more affordable and convenient fast food outlets, increased advertising and promotion by large foodservice chains, and the smaller size of U.S. households. ERS economists examine factors influencing this trend as well as:

  • Nutritional quality of food away from home,
  • Effect of food away from home on overweight and obesity,
  • Economic assessment of a food-away-from-home nutrition labeling policy, and
  • Effect of dietary knowledge on food and nutrient intakes.

ERS research comparing nutritional quality of food prepared at home and away from home has been used to develop Federal dietary guidelines, such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

ERS researchers examined the growing availability of food away from home (FAFH) in a report that presents research on food choices and availability; nutrition and diet quality; and food policies, including menu labeling and food assistance programs. The report also examines how FAFH choices relate to diet quality and sociodemographic characteristics.

America’s Eating Habits: Food Away From Home