The American Dietetic Association Foundation has released preliminary results of a new survey on family eating habits, attitudes and physical activity. The preliminary findings are in the ADA’s 2010 Family Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey.

Following up on a similar survey from 2003, the 2010 study surveyed 1,193 pairs of children (ages 8 to 17) and their parents, revealing significant positive changes in eating patterns, meal and snack purchases and family patterns related to healthier weights in children.

Some of the findings that could have implications and opportunities for the fast casual, pizza, and other limited services segments, include:

Eating Behaviors:

  • A majority of families are not eating at fast food or sit-down restaurants often, with 51.4 percent of Caucasian, 56.5 percent of African-American and 63.8 percent of Hispanic kids reporting that their families eat there less than once a week or never. In comparison, children eating at fast food or sit-down restaurants three times a week or more include 9.3 percent of Caucasian children, 17.9 percent of African-American children and 13.2 percent of Hispanic children.
  • The meal children are most likely to skip is breakfast. Thirty-seven percent of African-American children, 24 percent of Hispanic children and 22 percent of Caucasian children report eating breakfast only sometimes, once in a while or never.  

Family Influence:

  • Since 2003, there has been a significant increase in daily family meals eaten at home, from 52 percent in 2003 to 73 percent in 2010. Additionally, 72.9 percent of children are eating at home on all five school nights, compared to 51.9 percent in 2003.

Nutrition Knowledge:

  • Less than 25 percent of parents and their children correctly identified grains as the food group from which the most servings should be consumed daily. The most common answer was vegetables (47.4 percent of Caucasian parents, 45.0 percent of African-American and 31.1 percent of Hispanic parents; 25.0 percent of Caucasian and 25.4 percent of African-American children) except for Hispanic children who selected meats, fish, poultry and beans (22.8 percent).

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