Americans have changed what, where, when and how they eat today. Just one look at the long line in the drive-thru lane at quick-service restaurants over the hour confirms those facts.


The 20th annual report “Eating Patterns in America” by the NPD Group reveals that what Americans eat is largely driven by convenience and cost. While year-over-year changes have sometimes been modest, significant changes can be found when you look at the long-term data. For the past two decades, NPD has measured and reported the eating habits of Americans, and has been the sole information source for tracking these important trends.


A few key findings include:

  • The number of meals eaten in restaurants annually has decreased from 93 meals per person in 1985, to 80 meals per person today.
  • The number of meals purchased at a restaurant and eaten in the car has increased from 19 meals per person in 1985, to 32 meals per person today.
  • 92 percent of take-out lunches come from fast food restaurants today.
  • 92 percent of individuals consume some form of “ready-to-eat” foods in the home each day
  • The percentage of people who report they would like to lose 20 pounds now stands at 61 percent, up from 54 percent in 1985.
  • We are significantly more accepting of people who are overweight today. In 1985, 55 percent of respondents said they completely agree with the statement, “People who are not overweight look a lot more attractive.” This year, 24 percent completely agree with the same statement.
  • People have traded in their health concerns, from sodium back in 1985, to trans fat today.
  • In 2004, 75 percent of adults said they were trying to cut down or eliminate fat from their diet, and 61 percent said they were trying to add more whole grains.

For more details from the study, go to:


NPD Group