USDA Study Finds People Eating Healthier And More Frequently At Home

Thanksgiving family dinner table
 Photo: vxla (CC-BY)

A new federal study finds that people are turning to more healthy eating options, which includes eating at home more often.

The study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture looks at working adults’ eating habits from 2005-2010.

During that time period, adults ate out less and had more family meals. The quality of people’s diets improved and they consumed less fat. The report cites studies that find eating out is generally less nutritious than preparing a meal at home.

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While the recession played a part in this trend, researchers say people are more health conscious. Consumers are looking at food labels and thinking about nutrition more often before buying a product or ordering a meal.

Sam Kass is a nutrition policy advisor for the White House. He says that’s an improvement, but there’s still a ways to go to cut back on diseases like obesity and diabetes.

“Leadership from across the country — from nonprofits to businesses to communities to schools — are all working on this,” Kass says, “and this is yet another point to show that there’s a real shift underway.”

Wisconsin Restaurant Association executive vice president Susan Quam says it’s unfortunate that dining out is associated with unhealthy eating. She says what restaurants serve is based on customer demand.

“I’d say in the last two years, we do see a bigger demand from customers looking for different types of options,” Quam says, “whether they want to reduce the amount of high fat foods on the plate or change the type of sides that comes along.”

Quam says one thing many restaurants have been doing over the last few years to provide healthier options is cut back on sodium.

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