Civil Eats posted a cool multimedia infographic showing “calories available per day per capita” from 1970 thru 2008 based on USDA data.
The data shows:
Between 1970 and 1980, calorie intake is relatively stable, rising only 1.2 percent. Between 1980 and 1990 consumption jumped 9.6 percent. Then, from 1990 to 2008, the last year with data available, the number of calories rises another 11.4 percent for a grand a total of 2,673 calories available per person–23.3 percent more than consumed in 1970.
Still, in comparing the “plates” from 1970 with 2008, I’m a bit struck by how similar they are — save for grains and added fat (click for larger versions).
Of course, this data represents “available calories” … and not necessarily ingested calories. And they are also averages.
I’m not sure that a 23% increase in calories (coupled with a likely decrease in physical activity) is the sole explanation for the increase in obesity (the question Civil Eats asks), but pun intended, it’s certainly food for thought.
Update 4/6: Tom Philpott adds his two cents over at Grist.