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Dietary Habits - An AARP Bulletin Poll

In an effort to learn more about adult’s dietary habits, in September 2012, AARP Research & Strategic Analysis fielded a short telephone survey among a nationally representative sample of adults age 18+.

Key findings include:

  • Generally, adults 18-49 and those 50+ have similar dietary habits.
  • Adults skip meals regularly—especially breakfast. While about a third of the adult population says they never skip meals, half of the adult age 18 to 49 say they skip breakfast regularly and three in ten adults age 50+ say they skip breakfast regularly.
  • In a typical day, adults try to eat at least one or two servings from the following food groups: grains, fruits and vegetables, and dairy. About a third of the adult population eats at least two servings of fruit, vegetables, grains and dairy every day.
  • By and large, adults 18-49 and those 50+ have the same dietary habits when looking at protein (i.e., red meat, pork, poultry, etc.) consumption. However, the age groups differ in the amount of fish they eat in an average week. Older adults eat fish more frequently. Adults in the older age group (age 50+) are more likely than those in the younger age group (18-49) to say they eat fish once or twice a week.
  • Adults also love to snack; however, it is not all “bad” foods. About half of the adults say they snack on fruit and vegetables every day. A quarter of the adults say they tend to eat sweets everyday and only one in ten adults say they eat salty snacks every day. Interestingly, only 1 percent of the adult population say they never eat the snacks listed in the survey.
     

Results from this survey suggest overall adults 18-49 and those 50+ have similar dietary habits. Adults skip meals regularly. While about a third of the adult population says they never skip meals,
half of the adult age 18 to 49 say they skip breakfast and three in ten adults age 50+ say they skip breakfast.
 
In a typical day, about a third of the adult population eats at least two servings of fruit, vegetables, grains and dairy. The younger age group (18-49) is more likely than the 50+ to eat a little more fruit and grain daily. A third of the adult population say they snack on sweets, salty snacks and fresh fruit and vegetables a few times a week. Older adults (age 50+) are more likely than the younger adults (18-49) to say they rarely or never eat salty snacks.

Generally, adults 18-49 and those 50+ have the same dietary habits when looking at protein (i.e., red meat, pork, poultry, etc.) consumption. However, there is a difference among the age groups in
the amount of fish they eat in an average week. Adults in the older age group (age 50+) are more likely than the younger age group (18-49) to say they eat fish once or twice a week.

Interestingly, over half of the adults age 21 and older say they do not drink alcohol. Younger adults (21-49) are more likely than older adults (50+) to say they drink one or less alcoholic beverages daily.

In September 2012, Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS) fielded a telephone survey among a nationally representative sample of 1,012 adults age 18 and older. For more information, contact Cheryl Lampkin at 202-434-6172.

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