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Another long-standing family tradition goes away as nearly half of all meals are eaten alone, and not at home

Another long-standing family tradition goes away as nearly half of all meals are eaten alone, and not at home

One of the most important traditions in the American household is going by the wayside as fewer and fewer families are coming together at the dinner table to have a family meal.

According to new statistics by Bank of America on American eating habits, 43% of all meals are now eaten alone by individuals, and for the first time ever, more money from household budgets is being spent dining out than in purchasing groceries for home use.

As shown in the chart below, spending on food at home and food away from home have been converging over the past 60 years, with traditional home-cooked family meals on the decline. In fact, according to the USDA, for the first time ever, the amount spent eating out has surpassed what US consumers spend on food at home. –¬†Zerohedge

  • Consumers are eating alone more often and more “on demand“. 47% of US meals are consumed alone and 43% of US consumers say they enjoy eating alone. Given how busy households and consumers have become, it is becoming more common to combine eating with catching up on news/social media, or to consume on the go. It also appears that the trend is for less planning for eating occasions. Millennials account for 40% of those who consume food within an hour of purchase. This is known as “immediate consumption” and accounts for about 15% of all meals. And 65% of instant consumables are eaten at home (source: Hartman Group/Forbes).

Besides their representing the ongoing breakdown of the family structure in America, declines in families eating together can also have detrimental consequences for one’s health as seen by the number of benefits that take place from families eating together at the dinner table.

Using data from nearly three-quarters of the world’s countries, a new analysis from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that students who do not regularly eat with their parents are significantly more likely to be truant at school. The average truancy rate in the two weeks before the International Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test administered to 15-year-olds by the OECD and used in the analysis as a measure for absenteeism, was about 15 percent throughout the world on average, but it was nearly 30 percent when pupils reported they didn’t often share meals with their families.

Children who do not eat dinner with their parents at least twice a week also were 40 percent more likely to be overweight compared to those who do, as outlined in a research¬†presentation¬†given at the European Congress on Obesity in Bulgaria this May. On the contrary, children who do eat dinner with their parents five or more days a week have less trouble with drugs and alcohol, eat healthier, show better academic performance, and report being closer with their parents than children who eat dinner with their parents less often, according to a¬†study¬†conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. –¬†The Atlantic

With more and more families being raised in single family homes, or by households where both parents work long hours on their own separate careers, the tradition of the family meal is quickly becoming a thing of the past. ¬†And although it’s removal from the daily routine is not the primary reason for many of the negative effects we are seeing in family cohesion today, it is one of the easiest things one can enforce that will aid in keeping the family together in a world that is both chaotic, and in dire need of the return of the family being the key component in society.

Kenneth Schortgen Jr is a writer for The Daily Economist,,, and Viral Liberty, and hosts the popular youtube podcast on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Ken can also be heard Wednesday afternoons giving an weekly economic report on the Angel Clark radio show.



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