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Dynamic Chiropractic – November 7, 2005, Vol. 23, Issue 23
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U.S. Food Consumption Data Is Now More Accurate (Part 1)

By G. Douglas Andersen, DC, DACBSP, CCN

When I last wrote about food consumption in the United States ("U.S. Food Consumption and Obesity," Parts I-IV)1-4 in 2003, the most up-to-date statistics I could find were six years old and were based on disappearance data.

The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) Web site is where I found this information.5 The ERS has made a few changes in its presentation, the biggest of which is an estimate of the amount of food we do not eat.

Disappearance Data

Estimating food consumption by food disappearance statistics is accomplished as follows: Total production is added to the beginning food stocks and total imports. Farm use, industrial use, exports, and ending stocks are then subtracted. Thus, the disappearance data is the amount of food that disappears. This is greater than the amount of food actually consumed.

Per-Capita Consumption

There is now a rough estimation on the amount of food lost from the farm to the mouth. Losses occur at every step of production, from growing to processing, transporting, packaging, retail, restaurant, cooking, spillage, spoilage and plate waste. The USDA's ERS calculates that the above losses account for 25 percent of the disappearance data. Therefore, the numbers in the tables (below and top right) are much more accurate than the data presented in my previous four-part series. In this article, let's examine the data from 1970-1995.

U.S. Food Supply Per-Capita Calories: Calories Per Person Per Day
Year Calories per
person per day
1970 2,234
1975 2,206
1980 2,270
1985 2,431
1990 2,500
1995 2,599

   Per-Capita Consumption Data: Food (1970-1995)
Pounds per person per year (adjusted for losses) 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995
Red meat (beef, veal, pork & lamb) 80.2 76.9 76.5 75.8 67.9 68.6
Poultry (chicken & turkey) 19.3 18.8 23.4 26.1 32.4 35.7
Fish (fresh, frozen, canned & cured) 8.4 8.6 8.8 10.5 10.5 10.3
Nuts 1.5 1.6 1.5 2.1 2.0 1.6
Sugar 84.8 81.1 85.6 89.8 94.3 102.6
High-fructose corn syrup 0.4 3.5 13.5 32.2 35.3 41.0
Grain 94.5 97.0 101.0 109.3 126.0 131.6
Total vegetables 133.0 132.7 134.9 142.8 153.0 161.2
Cheese 8.8 11.0 13.3 17.0 18.2 19.6
Total fats (oils, added fats, butter, cream, etc.) 43.5 44.2 47.5 53.5 53.3 55.1
Fresh fruit 41.8 43.5 44.6 46.5 49.7 51.6

   Per-Capita Consumption Data: Beverages (1970-1995)
Gallons per person per year (adjusted for loss) 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995
Milk 31.3 29.5 27.6 26.7 26.8 25.7
Juice 4.8 5.7 6.1 6.2 6.2 6.5
Bottled water N/A 1.2* 2.4 4.5 8.0 12.1
Soft drinks (diet) 2.1 3.2 5.1 7.1 10.7 10.9
Soft drinks (regular) 22.2 25.0 29.9 28.7 35.6 36.5
Alcohol 21.6 25.0 28.3 28.0 27.5 24.7
*Statistics started in 1976.

Like my "U.S. Food Consumption and Obesity" series, based on straight disappearance data, these new statistics, adjusted for losses, still yield the same conclusion: Blaming obesity on one food group is simply incorrect. Next month, we'll examine data from 1999-2003.


  1. Andersen GD. U.S. food consumption and obesity, part I. Dynamic Chiropractic, March 24, 2003: www.chiroweb.com/archives/21/07/01.html.
  2. Andersen GD. U.S. food consumption and obesity, part II. Dynamic Chiropractic, April 21, 2003: www.chiroweb.com/archives/21/09/02.html.
  3. Andersen GD. U.S. food consumption and obesity, part III. Dynamic Chiropractic, May 19, 2003: www.chiroweb.com/archives/21/11/02.html.
  4. Andersen GD. U.S. food consumption and obesity, part IV. Dynamic Chiropractic, June 16, 2003: www.chiroweb.com/archives/21/13/01.html.
  5. www.ers.usda.gov

G. Douglas Andersen, DC, DACBSP, CCN
Brea, California


Click here for more information about G. Douglas Andersen, DC, DACBSP, CCN.

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