How has the American diet changed since 1970?


The answer to that question was not exactly what I was expecting. Time has a couple interactive charts that visualize the changes. Here's some interesting things I learned ...

1) We eat more vegetables today than in 1970 (but less than we did in the late 90s and early oughts) and a lot less red meat and dairy. We do eat more sugar, but the change wasn't nearly as large as I was expecting it to be. And I was surprised to see how much more grain we eat now.

2) After potatoes, the three most popular vegetables in America (by a longshot) are celery, lettuce, and ... er ... potato chips. And this has been pretty consistently true for the last 40 years.

3) The average American diet has never involved more high fructose corn syrup than cane sugar. It came really close, around 2000, but the proportion of our sugar intake made up by HFCS has since fallen off again.

Notable Replies

  1. So whole grains are making me fat.

    Naw it's probably more likely me sitting here at this computer not getting off my fat ass...but that sounds like a "me" problem so that can't possible be it.

  2. Does it mention capers? My caper consumption has gone way up in the last 40 years.

  3. 1999 may be noted by future historians as the year the US hit peak orange...

  4. Fewer Jello Salads?

  5. Good thing too, because that looks revolting. Olives in a lime jello salad topped with shredded lettuce? Blech.

Continue the discussion

25 more replies