The “Standard American Diet” (Appropriately shortened to SAD) is one of our most shameful exports to the rest of the world. Anywhere people adopt the SAD, their health inevitably starts to suffer, chronic disease rates increase and life expectancy goes down. The SAD consists of:
- About 60% Processed Foods and Sugars.
- About 30% Animal food sources:
- Meat (red/white meat, fish, chicken/turkey, eggs)
- Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt…)
- Only 12% whole Vegetables and Fruits.
Here are some other statistics:
- The average American eats about 1,996 pounds (nearly a ton) of food a year. You better believe what you eat is important.
- 75% of Americans are overweight or obese, compared with 39% worldwide.
- If you compare with people in the Blue Zones, places where people live the longest and are the healthiest, 82% of Americans are overweight or obese.
- If you also consider that the majority of people who are in the “healthy” BMI are thon because of some chronic disease like smoking, cancer or GI problems, only 2.4% of Americans have a healthy weight because of healthy lifestyle choices.
- 42% of Americans are obese, compared with 13% worldwide. The obesity rate in the US was only 5% in 1960 and 15% in 1980.
- For middle age white males, the number is 50%! It was only 6% ~1900.
- 19% of school age children are obese.
- 25% of the world’s population has non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, primarily caused by obesity and a fatty diet.
- 35% of Americans are diabetic or pre-diabetic.
- 25% of teens and children are diabetic or pre-diabetic.
- 40% of American adults are on statins for cholesterol.
- 37% of American adults have elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels.
- 39% of U.S. adults age 20 or older have total cholesterol levels greater than 200 mg/dL.
- 7% of U.S. children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 have high total cholesterol.
- 50% of Americans will develop atherosclerosis and 33% will die of heart disease.
- Despite consuming the most dairy and calcium supplements, we have the highest osteoporosis and fracture rate worldwide.
- Arthritis affects 22% of American adults.
- There are 57 different names for “sugar” that is permissible on packaging.
- In 1970, Americans ate out 20% of the time. Now it’s up to 50%.
- Portion sizes have quadrupled (4x increase) since the 1950’s.
- Plate sizes have increased by 30% since the 1970’s.
- 70% of deaths in the US are from chronic diseases and at least 80% of those diseases are lifestyle related and are reversible. Worldwide, 63% of people die from preventable diet-related chronic diseases (and this doesn’t count things like intestinal infections and starvation).
- Adding 8 gm of saturated fat a day triples your risk of death from Multiple Sclerosis. The following items contain 8 grams of saturated fat:
- 1 sausage
- 1 burger
- 1 chicken nugget
- 1 oz of cheddar cheese
- 1 egg has 200 mg of cholesterol, the same as in an 8 oz steak!
- Calcium supplements actually show a 64% increased risk of hip fractures and also increase heart attack risk.
- Americans sleep on average 2 hours less each night than we did 100 years ago.
American consumption of various foods 1900 vs 2010:
- Meat: 120 lbs. ☞ 222 lbs. (3x the world average). As of 2020, it’s 274 excluding fish/seafood!
- Sugar: 40 lbs. ☞ 152 lbs. (this is only the added, processed sugar)
- Dairy: 294 lbs. ☞ 605 lbs.
- Cheese: 3 lbs. ☞ 35 lbs. (and 60% of that cheese is consumed in the form of pizza!)
The average American consumes:
- CALORIES (in general): 2600 calories/day in 2010. In 1970, it was 2050 calories/day.
- Roughly translated, an additional 550 cal. / day = 1 lb. / week = 52 lbs. / year extra.
- SUGAR: 190 lbs. per year (10 tbsp./day!). This does not include fruits and vegetables.
- Aspartame is 660 times sweeter than table sugar.
- Saccharine is 1300 times sweeter than table sugar.
- Stevia (plant extract) is closer to actual sugar with regards to sweetness.
- HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP: 60 lbs. / year (down from 62 lbs/year in 2000 and 0 in 1950).
- SOFT DRINKS: 53 gallons/yr (1.5 bathtubs worth!). 1 can of soda increases heart attack rates by 20% and diabetes by 26%.
- CANDY: 22 lbs. a year. Half of that, 11 lbs., is chocolate 80% of which is pure milk chocolate.
- CHOCOLATE: Americans consume 2.8 billion lbs. of chocolate a year (11 lbs per person), almost 1/2 of the world’s production.
- FRUITS AND VEGETABLES: Only 11 lbs./yr. compared with 140 lbs. in 1900
- #1 vegetable consumed in the US is the potato, 95% of which is consumed in the form of French fries!
- #2 vegetable consumed in the US is the tomato, 50% of which is as ketchup and tomato sauce loaded with sugar!
- MEAT: 222 lbs. per year (up from 120 lbs. in 1900)
- Chicken – 107 lbs. a year on average (2017).
- Beef – 56 lbs. a year (2017)
- Pork – 50 lbs. a year (2017)
- BACON: 18 lbs./year.
- Bacon is a $4.5 billion market.
- 42% of Americans would rather eat bacon than have sex.
- 25% say that bacon scent is their favorite.
- 25% of people love bacon more than their relationship partner.
- REFINED FLOUR: 146 lbs. per year
- CHEESE: 38 lbs. per year in 2018
- that’s 5000 grams of fat and 65,000 calories or 32 days’ worth of calories for average person)
- in 1900, we only ate 3 lbs. / year
- it takes as much as 10 lbs. of milk to make 1 lb. of cheese.
- DAIRY (overall): average American consumes 605 lbs./year (up from 294 lbs. in 1900)
- FAT: 190 gm. per day (compared with 147 gm. in 1970). Should for under 50. Diabetics, under 25.
- PROTEIN: most eat TWICE the US RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) which is way too high to begin with.
- FIBER: 97% do not consume the RDA of fiber (25 grams/day) and most eat less than 1⁄2 of the RDA (which is way too low as it is – should be at least 40).
- VEGETABLES: 87% do NOT meet RDA FRUIT: 76 % do NOT meet RDA The RDA is too little on both counts
- #1 consumed vegetable in the US is potatoes, 2/3rds of which is in the form of French fries, chips and other frozen processed food.
- #2 consumed vegetable is tomatoes, a significant proportion of which is in the form of ketchup.
- the two together account for more than half of American vegetable consumption.
- SALT: 3500 mg./day compared with American Heart Association recommendation of no more than 1500 mg. 1 tsp of table salt has 2300 mg.
- WHOLE GRAINS: Average American eats 0.9 servings a day. RDA is 5 servings a day. 7 for kids.
- EGGS: The average American eats 250 eggs/year. The US produces 76 billion eggs annually. 290 million hens, 1 per US citizen, are kept for egg laying.
- OILS: all are pure fat. 14 gm/tbsp. Olive oil does contain some phytonutrients and antioxidants
- PER 100 gm. Calories Fiber Fat
- OLIVES (~25) 115 3 11
- Olive Oil (~7 tbsp.) 884 0 100
- PER 100 gm. Calories Fiber Fat
- WINE: 2.94 gallons a year.
- BEER: 21 gallons
- SODA: 44 gallons
- COFFEE: 18.5 gallons
- CHEMICALS: it is estimated that we consume at least 10 lbs. of chemicals from our foods and beverages a year.
In the US alone, 2.7 billion boxes of cereal are sold annually.
Europeans spend 20% of their income on food whereas Americans spend only 9%. Inexpensive food is cheap food.
Americans eat out 4-5 times a week and eat hamburgers on average 3 times a week. We spend more on eating out than food for our home.
43% of men surveyed would rather eat bacon than have sex.
25% of men admitted that their favorite smell was bacon.
25% of surveyed adults liked bacon more than their partner.
On a 2000 Calorie per day diet, the RDA of protein is 56 gm for the average male. This can be achieved with only 1 skinless chicken breast. No one is going to eat only one food a day but here is a comparison. The point is that plants provide plenty of protein.
- 2000 Calories of chicken provides 380 gm of protein
- 2000 Calories of broccoli provides 147 gm of protein
- 2000 Calories of Lentils provides 157 gm of protein
- 2000 calories of broccoli or asparagus provides ALL the Macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates) and Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) our bodies need in a day.
- 2000 calories of chicken however provide much more protein and fat than is necessary, not enough carbohydrate and is deficient in many micronutrients.
RANDOM STATISTICS AND FACTS ABOUT THE WOLD AND HOW WE LIVE
- American consumers on average use the most carbon of all the worlds populations. 30x more than the average Chinese or Indian consumer.
- The world’s cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.8 billion people (more than there are on earth for now).
- The US accounts for only 5% of the world population but 40% of all military weaponry.
- The US is 1st in arms sales and exports.
- The United States is 1st in military spending ($611 billion). That’s 36 percent of the global total and over three times the amount spent by second-placed China.
- America has 800 military bases in 80 countries. The next top 11 countries have 70 bases combined with Russia only having at most 40 (they are not very open with information).
- 50% of all the firearms in the world are owned by Americans.
- The US has 2.3 million prison inmates. 30 years ago, there were only 300,000. That’s a 700% increase with no benefit to public safety or change in crime rate.
- 25% of all incarcerated prisoners worldwide are in the United States, again, despite only having 5% of the world’s population.
- 90% of those incarcerated are for drug-related offences and only 1% of those are high level “drug lords”. The other 99% are because pf personal use/addiction issues.
- There are 14,000 statutes in the US penal code which are punishable by imprisonment.
- In California, more money is spent on prisons than higher education. ~ $47,000/year per inmate.
- Despite prison “rehabilitation”, 67% of released prisoners re-offend. The system is clearly not working.
- The US has 7 million Americans on supervision and 4.5 million on parole.
- The US imprisons its own citizens at a rate 5 x higher than western Europe and 14 times higher than Japan.
- The US has the most mass shooting in the world.
- Worldwide, we throw away 1.3 billion tons of food.
- Americans throw away 50% of all produce, equivalent to 60 million tons of material which could be turned into compost.
- There are more organisms and life in the first inch of soil than all life above or below it. The surface is key.
- 1 gram of soil contains more than 10,000 different species of microorganisms. That’s more biodiversity in one gram of soil than all the mammals on earth.
- 200 years ago, life expectancy was a mere 30 years, 94% of the world’s population lived on less than $2/day (in today’s dollars) and 84% lived on less than $1/day. Although sexism, racism and various forms of discrimination certainly exist today, these attitudes were much worse back then and even today are much worse in many other parts of the world. Overall, we got it pretty good.
- How much is enough? In 1958, the average American CEO made about 8x more than their company’s average employee. Today in 2018, the discrepancy is a staggering 475x more! The next closest in developed western countries is England with a 22x increase followed by Canada at 20x and the Germany at 12x. Of course in countries like Russia and China, their wage gaps are much higher but do we really want to compare out living standards to theirs? We are still the highest however.
- The top 61 individual income earners in the world make as much money as the total income of poorest half of the worlds population (3.5 billion of the total 7 billion).
- There are 187 lobbyists in Washington, DC for every member of congress! The pharmaceutical industry has the most, 10x more than the NRA, followed by the industrial agriculture industry.
SOME ENERGY USE AND HOME FACTOIDS
- Americans spend 7x more time shopping than playing with their kids.
- 34% of Americans ranked shopping as their #1 activity, 2x more than spending time in nature.
- Americans work on average 9 weeks more than European counterparts. 11.5 weeks more than Germans.
- Work days and work weeks are longer.
- 25% of Americans take no vacation time at all.
BMI, body mass index, has increased over the years as have our home sizes and home debt percentage. Below is a chart with BMI for Americans aged 20-74 along with the average size of a single family home and the debt percentage for their home over the decades.
BMI House size Debt
1950 10% 983 sq feet 33%
1970 16% 1500 66%
2000 24% 2080 102%
2005 35% 2488 131%
2015 40% 2467 170%
- Al Gore’s TN mansion uses 20x the energy of the average American’s home. The same year he got an academy award for his climate change movie “A simple Truth”. Although his move was quite important in bringing this issue more into the public eye, it mentioned nothing about the impact of the animal agriculture industry on global warming, the biggest contributor by far. By the way, he made his wealth as a cattle rancher!
- Air conditioning accounts for 20% of our energy use.
- In 1960, only 12% of homes had air conditioning. Today, it is over 97%, with 75% having central units.
- Ceiling fans (blowing down), cool a room by 6 degrees.
- An incandescent light bulb emits more heat than light. Only 10% of the energy a light bulb uses is emitted as light, The other 90% is heat. Although certainly much more energy efficient, LED lights still give off a fair amount of heat. Halogen lights are even less efficient, creating lots of heat and only converting 5% of the energy it uses into actual light.
- There are more homes with 5 or more TVs than 0-1 in the US.
- In 1960, only 15% of homes owned dryers, using clotheslines to dry their clothes. Today, the statistic is reversed with only 15% of households using line-drying.
- 50% of the electricity used by most home electronics is used while the devices are actually off. They use power just being plugged in.
Links to more information about nutrition and health:
Additional helpful links and documents:
Wellness and Lifestyle Basics Handout – Wellness and Lifestyle Basics Handout