"We found U.S. consumers changed their eating and food purchasing habits significantly beginning in 2003, when the economy was robust, and continued these habits to the present," first author Shu Wen Ng of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Global Public Health, said in a statement.
"These changes in food habits persist independent of economic conditions linked with the Great Recession or food prices."
The researchers used both nationally representative dietary intake data along with longitudinal data on daily food purchases from hundreds of thousands of Americans.
The study samples included combined data sets from the NHANES study, which covered households comprising 13,422 children and 10,791 adults from 2003 to 2011, and the Nielsen Homescan Panel, which contains food purchase data from 57,298 households with children and 108,932 households without children.
The data showed calorie intake declined more among children than adults and that the proportional decline in calories was greatest from beverage consumption.