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Fast-Food Purchasers: Examining Their Time-Use Patterns

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Time is a limited resource. Deciding on how to utilize each minute in your 24-hour day is crucial.  However, the choice between using a portion of the day for food shopping, cooking, and cleaning up versus grabbing a fast food meal can have implications for our health and diet quality as well as other aspects of well-being. While fast-food purchases may save time, they have been linked to Americans’ poor diet quality and expanding waistlines.

Time-use patterns may provide clues as to what motivates fast-food purchases and in this way may help inform policies and other initiatives aimed at improving Americans’ diet quality.  Recently, we used time-use diaries from a nationally representative survey to examine how the time-use decisions of those who purchase fast food on a given day differ from the average of the U.S. population.