Taking a short New York Times story on “The Overflowing American Dinner Plate” as his starting point, the Ethicurean’s Marc uses the same USDA data to create a pair of brilliant charts. The Times reported that the average American ate 1.8 pounds more per week in 2006 than in 1970. But rather than pounds, the Ethicurean’s charts look at calories—or more precisely, the “average calories produced daily per capita for over 200 basic foods” (adjusted for waste and processing).

The first chart shows that calorie intake from 1970 to 2004 increased more than 500 calories per day, a 24 percent hike (and as Marc notes, since it takes 51 minutes of running to burn that many calories, it isn’t surprising Americans have gotten plumper). The second follows the rise and fall of those calories in different food categories (dairy, vegetables, added fats, and so on). It’s one thing to know that fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrate consumption has jumped. It’s another, and altogether scarier, thing to see a steep spike in added fats and flour and cereal. Hold onto your insurance premiums, kids.

See more articles