How much food does the average American eat a day?

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How much food does the average American eat a day?

Depends on whether the person is a man, woman or child, and their age. It also depends on how you count “food eaten”. Food eaten can be measured in pounds of food delivered to grocery stores which are then purchased or thrown out (by grocers or consumers) or in calories eaten at home. Since people living together in a house eat different amounts of food purchased in grocery stores, results vary when comparing calories eaten at home.

Food delivered to grocery stores is measured in pounds of food not including alcoholic beverages. About 31% is either stolen or spoiled and thrown away by the grocer or consumer during cooking or due to plate waste. Measured this way in 2010 (latest year data is available), the average American “eats” about 2,590 calories per person per day (not including the calories in food waste). These calories come from milk (1.8 cups), meat, eggs, and nuts (5.7 ounces), grain products (6.5 ounces), fruits (1.0 cup), vegetables including potatoes (1.4 cups), fats (11.7 teaspoons) and added sugars (17.7 teaspoons).

People’s activities have changed a lot since 1909 when cars, televisions, and computers were not available. In 1909, people were more active in their jobs (physical laborers or farmers) and in their leisure activities (walking or riding a horse). However, in today’s world, we spend too much time sitting. We can’t continue to eat as if we were a farmer working the soil using a horse and plow.

What also has changed is where people in 1909 got their 3,500 calories per day. Back in 1909, we ate mostly (57%) carbohydrates (starches), about the same amount of protein (12%) and less fat (31%) probably because of eating wild game and leaner livestock. From 1951 to 1965 Americans had the lowest calorie consumption since 1909 at 3,100 calories or 800 calories lower than in 2005. The highest food consumption since 1909 was 2001 with 4,000 calories per person per day. In 2004, we reached the highest fat consumption at 41.3%. Hopefully, people are listening to the message to reduce calories and fat. Carbohydrate consumption has dropped since 1909’s high of 57% to the lowest 49% from 1964 to 1965. Since 1970, we have decreased our consumption of sugar by 28% and increased our consumption of corn sweeteners by almost 490% probably in carbonated beverages and processed foods. Both more money to spend on groceries and transportation has expanded the type of foods Americans eat like fresh fruits/vegetables in the dead of winter.

Food eaten can also be counted as food consumed at home and away from home as calories. The government periodically surveys Americans to find out what they are eating and the latest results from the year 2000 are 2,666 calories per day (by men) and 1,877 (by women) with 49% carbohydrates (by men) and 52% (by women), 33% fat (by men and women), 11% saturated fats (by men and women), 16% protein (by men) and 15% (by women).