Friday, August 24, 2018

Eating While Doing Something Else

If you've ever wondered why Americans are increasingly overweight, the American Time Use Survey may have the answer. Not only do we spend an average of 63.6 minutes a day eating and drinking mindfully (meaning as a primary activity—or our main activity at the time) but we spend another 17 minutes eating and drinking mindlessly (meaning as a secondary activity while we're focusing on something else). How many calories can we consume in 17 minutes? More than enough to tip the scales, apparently.

Five pursuits account for the 57 percent majority of the primary activities in which we engage while eating and drinking as a secondary activity. Number one is watching television. Twenty-three percent of mindless eating and drinking occurs while watching TV. Close behind is working at our main job, which accounts for another 23 percent. Socializing is number three. Food and drink preparation is fourth, which may explain why so many cooks claim not to be hungry when sitting down for dinner. Reading for personal interest is number five.

There are notable differences between men and women in the primary activities that account for most of their secondary eating and drinking. Among men, the top five activities are watching TV, working, socializing, playing games, and relaxing/thinking. For women, the top five are working, watching TV, food and drink preparation, socializing, and grooming.

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Watching TV and Working Are the Top Activities that Accompany Secondary Eating

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