Interactive Infographic Reveals the Reason We are Obese

Check out this interactive infographic. It shows a breakdown of our calorie consumption for every year since 1970 til 2008. Hover your mouse from left to right and you’ll see the progression (if it can be called that) of consumption over the past 4 decades.

On the year the Beatles broke up, we consumed on average 2168 calories per day. When Reagan was elected we were up to 2195 (not a bad decade). When the burger loving Bill Clinton took office, the number shot up to 2473. By the Beijing Olympics we were downing 2673 calories per day, almost 25% more than a generation earlier.

That’s 505 calories more per day than in 1970, every day! In one week, that’s an added pound of body weight (3500 calories is the equivalent of 1 lb).

The calorie breakdown is disappointing as well:

From 1970 to today, only 16 additional calories are from fruit. And we are minus 1 for vegetable calories. On the other hand, we are consuming 221 more calories of added fat today than we did back then. Pathetic.

The data is based on USDA calculations. The frightening  infographic was created by Andrea Jezovit for the excellent Civil Eats blog.

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  • Rachel Assuncao, Health Coach

    Unfortunately, the graph didn’t work in your post for me. It did work on the Civil Eats website though. So, there might be a technical issue somewhere?

    I have to say I was surprised to see that the overall calories for dairy consumption haven’t increased significantly. I suspect that’s not because we haven’t increased our dairy consumption, but because as a society we’re eating more low-fat dairy. I also wonder about the accuracy of not eating significantly more sugar? I suspect it might be the actual table sugar that we use in our households, since stats say that hasn’t changed much. But, it can’t possibly also include the added sugars found in processed foods.

    Having looked at it, I would agree that this shares one factor of why it is that in North America obesity is steadily on the incline. There are lots of other factors too – like the quality of those calories (whole vs. processed foods), accessibility to fresh fruits and vegetables (especially for those living in economically depressed areas), and honest education about food that is free from having to appease the mighty corporate dollar.

    Personally, I would suggest that another, and often overlooked, reason for obesity is that we are so caught up in the world of dieting. In my health coaching practice, I see so many people who learned a hard and fast rule about being thin at some point that is damaging their health. Often, it’s removing an entire food group from their diets; like the woman who hadn’t eaten any grain products in more than 3 years and couldn’t understand why she was having intense sugar cravings (and the resulting binge on cookies or cakes several times a week); or the woman who never ate anything with any fat in it – fat free dairy, fat free salad dressing, cooking with water and never oil – she, too had weird cravings she couldn’t understand. She experimented with adding a small amount of healthy oil to her diet and voila – cravings gone. I see this happening all the time, and I suspect the ‘food products’ that have been created lead to additional calorie consumption too.

  • Nathanbrgrn

    What’s with the massive jump in added fat from 1999-2000?

  • Nancy – The Frugal dietitian

    Obesity was rare when I was growing up. As a society we need to stop blaming (and suing) food companies and restaurants! “A moment on the lips, forever on the hips”

  • Charlotte

    And it just shows what people who eat low carb have been saying for years:

    Cut the grains, sugar and processed foods.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Rachel, I totally agree, and have come across similar things in my Weight Loss Mind Coaching. The more people become There are more diets now than ever before and more obesity. It’s not just a coincidence. The more people become obsessed with eating only certain foods and cutting out other things, on the advice of others, they stop listening to their own bodies.

    When people truly believe in their own intrinsic worth and value as humans, there are no limiting beliefs and distortions about food, weight, health, and they are educated about correct nutrition… then they can forget the diets completely and just listen to their own bodies, and then their weight will regulate naturally and will feel better than ever. Skip the diets, drink more water, eat natural foods, chew, and stop just before you’re full.

  • Mr. Bill

    The interactivity of this infographic is fun, but it limits the utility. A simple multi-line graph would more clearly show trends over time.

    Here is a question: average coliries is always stated, but what is the distripution and how has it changed over time? Is the increase due to a larger subset of super eater or is does calorie consumption increase maore generally.

    If anyone has a source of data, please let me know.

  • Mike Lieberman

    We need to stop worrying about diets and get back to eating real food, not the food stuff and products that we’ve come to consume on a regular basis.

    A diet comes to an end. A lifestyle does not.