Americans’ eating habits worsening in 2013

December 3, 2013

According to a Gallup poll, Americans’ eating habits have deteriorated in 2013, as fewer adults report eating healthy all day “yesterday” in every month so far this year compared with the same months in 2012. In particular, healthy eating in June, July, August, and September declined by at least three percentage points from the same months in 2012. Moreover, in most months this year, healthy eating has been at its lowest in Gallup trends since 2008.

Gallup and Healthways ask at least 500 Americans each day about their eating habits as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Healthy eating generally follows a seasonal pattern, gradually declining in the spring, ticking up in the late summer months, and then falling steeply in November and December. The increase between December 2012 and January 2013 was 1.9 percentage points, which is lower than the typical New Year’s uptick. Additionally, May and June 2013 brought steeper-than-usual declines.

In terms of a more specific dietary practice, fewer Americans have reported eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables at least four days per week in most months so far in 2013 compared with the same months in 2012. The only exceptions were March and October. This decline in produce consumption could be related to the worsening of Americans’ self-reported eating habits.

Healthy eating, which is linked to lower risk of obesity, is down for all months in 2013 when compared with 2012. Additionally, the percentage of Americans who report eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables at least four times a week has dropped in eight out of 10 months so far in 2013. Both healthy eating and produce consumption tend to decrease in November and December, likely attributable to Americans’ indulging during the holiday season.

Press release