AUSTIN, Texas — The more money you earn, the more likely you are to munch on a muffin or down a power bar at your desk. And the more frequently you munch, the better your chance of being healthy.
Those are among the findings in a report by University of Texas at Austin economist Daniel Hamermesh released earlier this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Hamermesh used data from the American Time Use Survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to examine how much time Americans spend eating meals each day and how much time they spend "grazing"--snacking or drinking while working, watching TV or doing some other activity.
"When their time becomes more valuable, people substitute grazing for eating, essentially switching to multi-tasking," Hamermesh said. "Overall, better health is associated with more time spent eating, but especially with spreading that time over more meals per day."
Hamermesh found that more than half of all adults graze each day, with their grazing time almost equaling the time they spend eating meals. The average American adult spends about two-and-a-half hours eating or grazing every day.
Among the other findings:
Hamermesh has done extensive research using data from the American Time Use Survey. He has also done research on labor demand, time use, social insurance programs and unusual applications of labor economics to such areas suicide, sleep, beauty and other subjects.
A copy of the report is available online.