How Did Americans Get So Fat, In Seven Charts

Tyler Durden's picture

Americans are fat. They are so fat very few would even bother to click on a hyperlink in this article explaining how fat they are, so instead we will present an animated chart showing the severity of the US obesity problem over the past 30 years.

 

Cartoons aside, here are the facts: today two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Half are afflicted with chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure that can often be prevented with better diets, but aren't and as a result debt-funded healthcare costs have exploded, and while this chronic obesity has made pharma companies richer beyond their wildest dreams, it means future US healthcare spending and welfare obligations are unsustainable.

America didn't get this way overnight. The average calories available to the average American increased 25 percent, to more than 2500, between 1970 and 2010, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There was no extra meal added to the day, instead an evolution in the type of foods Americans eat led to steady growth in calories.

Added fats and grains account for a growing share of total caloric intake. These two categories, which include oils and fats in processed foods and flour in cereals and breads, made up about 37 percent of our diet in 1970. By 2010, they were 46 percent—a larger share of the growing pie. One of the main factor: cost; the increasingly more caloric foods become progressively cheaper and more affordable. The result: more of the lower and middle classes gravitated toward it, leading to the epidemic shown above.

Here, courtesy of Bloomberg, are seven charts showing the detail behind America's troubling obesity trend.

First, this is where America's calories come from.

Cheese is replacing milk.

A lot more fat goes into our foods.

Calories from wheat, rice, and corn have increased. This includes refined grains like white bread that provide calories but are stripped of much of the nutrients in whole grains.

There are some indications that Americans are changing their diets to become healthier. For example, we're swapping red meat for chicken.

And though corn syrup boomed since the 1970s, the total amount of sweeteners we eat has declined. That's partly because Americans are drinking less soda.

These positive changes haven't negated the overall increase in calories on our plates. More than two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, compared to less than half in the 1970s.

The government's dietary guidelines are simple: "Almost all people in the United States could benefit from shifting choices to better support healthy eating patterns." Right, now if only the government would also subsidize this healthy - which means more expensive - eating. We won't hold our breath: after all the massive pharma lobby would generate far less profits for its clients if US obesity were to sharply decline as a result of someone doing the right thing.

So until something does take place to shock the US out of its fatty momentum, here is Family Guy.