Unsurprisingly, whether you have kids is a big indicator of how much time you can spend eating.

Mike Pomranz
November 02, 2018

Feel like you’re rushing through meals more than you use to? A study funded by the USDA says you’re probably right. While the amount of time American adults are spending eating while doing other things has remained the same, the amount of time we’re dedicating to eating and drinking as a primary activity has dipped by about three minutes a day.

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The findings, , come courtesy of the Economic Research Service’s Adult Eating & Health Module (EHM) which consisted of about 36,000 interviews over two three-year spans: 2006 to 2008 and 2014 to 2016. During the more recent period, the average American adult spent, per day, about 64.5 minutes eating and drinking as a primary activity and about 16.8 minutes eating as a secondary activity (like snacking while working). The study found that though secondary eating was relatively steady, primary eating times had dropped by five percent.

So who’s behind the speed up? Well, interestingly enough, though the parents of young children, especially single parents, tend to dedicate the least amount of time to having a proper meal, researchers say the change was “mostly driven by households without children aged 17 and younger.” To put that another way, the rushed are still rushed, but now even the people who had time to eat a decade ago are spending less time eating than they used to.

Specifically, older people — 65 and older — dedicate the most time to eating and drinking: 74.6 minutes. Another group with plenty of time to focus on food and beverage: childless couples, who spent 72.2 minutes eating — over 10 minutes more than people with kids. Speaking of which, unsurprisingly, single-parent households spent a mere 51.8 minutes eating as a primary activity per day.

One final interesting stat the report revealed: Educated people actually spend more time eating than those with a lesser education — both as a primary activity and a secondary activity. People with at least a master’s degree spend nearly 11 minutes more per day focusing on eating and drinking than people who only have an undergraduate degree or less. Meanwhile, the better-educated group also spent nearly three minutes more per day eating as a secondary activity. So much for the unemployable couch potato sitting around eating all day: Turns out people with lesser educations likely have to spend more time working than eating.

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