US Dietary Trends, 1970-2005. Cheese Takes The Cake.


Americans are eating over 30 pounds of cheese a year, up from 11 pounds in 1970.

Dietary Assessment Of Major Trends In US Food Consumption, 1970-2005, US Department of Agriculture (USDA), March 2008

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about two-thirds (67%) of U.S. adults in 2003-04 were either overweight or obese, compared with 47% in 1976-80. During the same period, the obesity rate among adult Americans has more than doubled, from 15% to 32%. This raises questions about what and how much Americans are consuming each year.

The data in this report “do not directly measure actual consumption.” They are estimates based on food availability, exports, waste, and nonfood uses. But they are useful. Here are some notable changes that occurred in these 4+ decades:

By 2005, we were eating:

  • 192 pounds/year of flour and grains, just 136 pounds in 1970, up 41%. However, 90% of this was refined in 2005. (We were eating less oats, barley, rye.)
  • 86 pounds/year (8 tablespoons/day) of added fats and oils, just 53 pounds in 1970, up 62%. This doesn’t included fat naturally present in food.
  • 30 teaspoons/day of added sugars and sweeteners, up 19%.
  • 31 pounds/year of cheese, just 11 pounds in 1970, up 182%.
  • 200 pounds/year of meat, poultry, fish, just 177 pounds in 1970, up 13%.

What do you see? To me, that cheese increase was astounding. I think people will say they aren’t surprised given the amount of foods, especially fast foods, that come with melted cheese on top. Pizza probably leads the pack. But … 182%!

The other number that stands out for me is the increase in added fats and oils. This report says added fat now makes up 32% of our calories. So, Americans are eating a high-fat diet even before you factor in fat from, say, all that cheese!

I wonder how our alcohol intake changed.

1 thought on “US Dietary Trends, 1970-2005. Cheese Takes The Cake.

  1. Bix Post author

    Cheese, since it is so fatty and since it comes from an animal, tends to be high in environmental pollutants. These chemicals are lipophilic (dissolve well in fat) and they bioaccumulate up the food chain.



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