Americans cutting back on fast food, consuming fewer calories

Years of warnings by health officials and grim news on the bathroom scale appear to finally be having an impact on the nation's eating habits. While there is no sign the high level of obesity has fallen, Americans say they are consuming fewer calories and cutting back on fast food, cholesterol and fat.

Working-age adults consumed an average of 118 fewer calories a day in the 2009-10 period than four years earlier, according to a study released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Americans also reported eating more home-cooked meals with their families and fewer in restaurants—though the economy played a role—and reading nutritional labels on food at grocery stores more often.

The latest findings add to growing evidence that suggests the nation's eating habits may be taking a more healthful turn. Other studies also have found that caloric intake has declined in recent years.

Nutrition and public health experts caution that the tide hasn't turned on the problem of obesity and the health risks that come with it, such as diabetes. But they say a range of trends may be contributing to modest yet promising shifts in behavior, including greater public awareness and pressure on food manufacturers and the restaurant industry to produce more healthful offerings.

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