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Am J Public Health. 2014 May;104(5):840-6. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301677. Epub 2014 Mar 13.

Resistant to the recession: low-income adults' maintenance of cooking and away-from-home eating behaviors during times of economic turbulence.

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  • 1The authors are with the Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.



We examined the effects of state-level unemployment rates during the recession of 2008 on patterns of home food preparation and away-from-home (AFH) eating among low-income and minority populations.


We analyzed pooled cross-sectional data on 118 635 adults aged 18 years or older who took part in the American Time Use Study. Multinomial logistic regression models stratified by gender were used to evaluate the associations between state-level unemployment, poverty, race/ethnicity, and time spent cooking, and log binomial regression was used to assess respondents' AFH consumption patterns.


High state-level unemployment was associated with only trivial increases in respondents' cooking patterns and virtually no change in their AFH eating patterns. Low-income and racial/ethnic minority groups were not disproportionately affected by the recession.


Even during a major economic downturn, US adults are resistant to food-related behavior change. More work is needed to understand whether this reluctance to change is attributable to time limits, lack of knowledge or skill related to food preparation, or lack of access to fresh produce and raw ingredients.

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