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Markets to Restaurants: Purchasing Our Daily Calories

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About 20 to 25 percent of the calories American adults consume in a typical day are purchased at restaurants, from pizza and fast food to the sit-down types, according to a new study published in Nutrition Journal.

The study is the first to look at energy intake by food source and location among a representative sample of Americans, according to the authors.

 

Researchers collected data from almost 23,000 participants of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) who were asked to recall what they ate over the past 24 hours. For each food or beverage, staff asked where the food was purchased. 

No matter what the age, particpants ate about 85 percent of their day’s calories from grocery stores and restaurants. School meals accounted for 10 percent of total calories for 6 to 11 year olds, and only 5 percent for adolescents. For all ages, Americans are getting fewer than 1 percent of the day’s calories from vending machines.

For all ages, the top sources of calories included grain-based desserts and breads. Among teens, the top calorie sources also included soda, energy and sports drinks, and pizza. Other top sources of calories for adults over age fifty include chicken and beef dishes, energy drinks and alcoholic beverages (4 percent).

From convenience stories and supermarkets to restaurants and schools, understanding where we purchase our food can help support public health efforts to improve US diets, the authors conclude.


Source: Drewnowski A, Rehm CD. “Energy intakes of US children and adults by food purchase location and by specific food source.” Nutr J. 2013 May 8;12:59. 

Published on June 12, 2013

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