How have eating habits changed over the last few years and what does it mean? Last week, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon, and Sam Kass, Executive Director of Let’s Move! and White House Senior Policy Advisory for Nutrition Policy, with Jessica Todd, a research economist at USDA’s Economic Research Service, discussed the findings of a new report by USDA’s Economic Research Service, Changes in Eating Patterns and Diet Quality Among Working-Age Adults, 2005-2010, and efforts to empower Americans to make healthy food choices.

The survey data points a decrease in adults’ consumption of food prepared outside the home (e.g., restaurants and take-out), according to Todd, who cited the recession as a likely factor in that change. "Food prepared outside the home (food away from home, FAFH) comprises a significant share of U.S. consumers’ food expenditures, and FAFH intake has been linked to lower diet quality. Between 2006 and 2009, food spending declined 5 percent, due mainly to a 12.9-percent decline in expenditures on FAFH. This decline could have led to improvements in overall diet quality," according to the report summary. To view the whole summary and learn more about the report, click here

"But there has also been an increased consumer focus on nutrition," Todd said.

Concannon brought attention to the fact that more than 4,000 farmers markets across the country can use SNAP and WIC programs, a five-fold increase since 2008, he said.

"We can make a difference over time," Concannon said, referring to government initiatives, like Let's Move. "We can empower people by making the healthy choice the easy choice."