By Mike Pomranz
June 22, 2017
© Larry Lilac / Alamy

Americans get a lot of flak both domestically and abroad for our eating habits. But setting aside the fact that McDonald’s infiltrated the entire globe on our watch, we invented the deep-fried Oreo and, thanks to kale, we believe there’s such a thing as a “World’s Healthiest Eating Championship,” just how much time do Americans spend eating?

The United States Department of Agriculture attempted to get to the bottom of that very question with a report released last month entitled “Americans’ Eating Patterns and Time Spent on Food.” In answer to the most basic question of “well, how much?” the USDA determined, “On an average day, Americans age 15 and older spent 64 minutes eating and drinking as a ‘primary’ or main activity, and 16 minutes eating while doing something such as watching television, driving, or working.”

Of course, the 45 page report delved a bit further than figuring out that we all eat about 80 minutes a day. (It would have had to have used a hell of a large font if it hadn’t.) A couple of the other highlights included:

  • Men tended to have higher amounts of “primary” eating than women, and vice versa, women tended to spend more time eating while doing something else.
  • Compared to data from 2006 – 2008, the new data (which is from 2014) shows that the amount of time spent eating declined by 3 minutes, meaning we’re spending less time eating now than we used to. Interestingly, all of that decline came out of our “primary” eating time with “secondary” eating times remaining about the same.

If you’re interested in an even deeper dive into eating habits in the US, the USDA has it all for you including percentages on where most eating happens (only 9.3 percent of primary eating happens in a restaurant or bar compared to 71.3 percent happening at home), the times when most people eat (noon and 6pm are by far the primary grubbing hours) and other random stuff like who does the most grocery shopping (twice as many women handle the family shopping as men).


Why not grab a sandwich and look at the report? Then it counts towards your “secondary” eating time which really has a lot of catching up to do.