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USDA: Working-Age Adults Consuming Fewer Calories


While there have been signs of progress in the past year in the effort to reduce childhood obesity, rates for adults have remained stagnant. But new research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that adults are beginning to lead healthier lives, too.

Survey data from the USDA’s Economic Research Service shows that daily caloric intake declined by 118 calories between 2005-06 and 2010-11 among working-age adults, a 5 percent decrease. Consumption of calories consumed from food prepared away from the home (FAFH) decreased even more — 127 calories per day in 2005-6, daily calories consumed from fast-food alone fell by 53 calories.

Calories weren’t the only thing that declined. Intake of cholesterol during the same period decreased by 24 milligrams per day, a 7.9 percent decrease, while fiber intake increased by 1.2 grams per day, a 7.5 percent increase. Quality of saturated fat and cholesterol consumed during the period also improved.

But the report also found that the decreases differed among population groups. For example, the decline in FAFH calories was smaller among adults with no college education compared to those with at least some college (although there were no differences between men with no college and some college). Meanwhile, the calories from FAFH did not change among older adults, defined as those born before 1946.

The decline in FAFH calories led more families to eat at home, the report notes, and more of those meals were home-cooked.