How we spend our winter leisure time eating

Research by the Leisure Trends Group in Boulder, Colorado, shows that food has become an American obsession. People ranking their winter leisure activities rated TV watching, first; reading, second; and eating or thinking about eating third, at 20%. The leisure-eating fixation varies from a low of 13% on Thursdays to 26% on Fridays. On Thursday through Sunday, the percentage is almost evenly split between eating at home and dining out in a restaurant.

Today, more Americans are spending time eating and calling it leisure than was the case just 15 years ago, when eating was hardly mentioned as leisure in Leisure Trends Group's research. Recent research by the National Restaurant Association found that 43% of adults say restaurants are an essential part of their lifestyles, with the percentage jumping to 57% for adults with household incomes of $75,000 or more. Today, leisure and dining are becoming synonymous.