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How our diet has evolved from 1970 to 2008

9 Jan

Evolution of the American Diet : Hungry for Reform!

Check out this fascinating interactive graph from UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism, from a food and health reporting project. Click on the link, and scroll back and forth on the image to see the average daily calorie consumption over the past three decades. The different circles represent the five main food groups (grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables, dairy), alongside added fats and sugars in our foods.  It is interesting that the number of fruits, vegetables, and dairy intake was about the same in 2008 as it was in 1970.  However, the amount of grains, added sugars, and saturated fats have gone up – and big time.  Considering it is these added sugar and fats that most directly lead to weight gain, it’s not surprising that our obesity rates have tripled in the last three decades.

The average daily calorie intake was 2168 in 1970, and 2673 in 2008.  That’s about an 18% increase! Although an extra 505 calories a day might not seem like much, it’s actually an extra 184, 325 calories per year. That’s more than one hundred White Castle Large Chocolate shakes, or over 200 Burger King double whopper burgers!

What can we do to stop it?  Teach our kids the importance of choosing nutritious meals, and show them how to cook fresh food themselves! Think about enrolling your child in Butter Beans after school or summer camp programs to get a head-start on healthy eating and living.

A special thanks to Andrea Jezovit with UC Berkleys’ News 21 project for compiling all of this data! (