Only half of all Americans eat breakfast every day with one out of ten skipping breakfast all together, according to new research by Mintel.

In consumer research concerning breakfast habits, Mintel found that breakfast foods are not just being eaten for breakfast. The most popular “dual role” of breakfast foods is as snacks, cited by nearly a third of respondents. This trend is more prevalent with younger Americans, as 71% of those age 18-24 saying they eat breakfast food throughout the day, compared to just 45% of those aged 65 and older.

According to Mintel’s consumer research, respondents are equally divided between diet and health concerns and taste or preference in their choice of breakfast foods. This reflects a general dichotomy seen in the US regarding diet and health – increased numbers of Americans are overweight, but more are exercising. The popularity of low-fat and fat-free foods reached their peak in the mid-1990s, and consumers have moved back to more indulgent foods, but in moderation.

More than three quarters of respondents eat breakfast at home (77%), with nearly equal numbers eating breakfast at work, in the car, or on the go (8% and 7% respectively). Just 7% eat it at a restaurant or coffee shop. It appears consumers are partial to home-prepared breakfast items, though it is not clear to what amount of trouble they will go to to prepare these items themselves.

The women surveyed are more likely than are the men to eat breakfast at work, while men are more likely to buy breakfast – 19% eat their breakfast in the car or on the go, or in a restaurant or coffee shop, compared to just 9% of women. Those respondents with the highest income level (over US$75,000) are the most likely to eat at work (17%).

Yogurt, breakfast meats and breakfast pastries registered the largest increases in popularity, while categories such as frozen breakfast foods, cereal and cereal bars, and breakfast baking mixes lost market share.