U.S. Agriculture Update: Overweight America
United States citizens consume more calories today than in previous decades. While the actual caloric intake currently observed per person is not known, what is known is that the aggregate food supply provides about 3,800 calories per person daily, which is up by about 700 calories from the 1950s and about 500 from what was delivered in the 1970s. We also know that more than half of the adult American population is overweight, with a whopping 27 percent considered obese, or more than 30 pounds overweight. Of the 3,800 calories the aggregate food supply provides per person, the USDA's Economic Research Service estimates that about 1,100 calories are lost due to spoilage and other forms of waste, bringing the daily calorie consumption to an average of 2,700 per person per day. Approximately 2,500 calories per day is enough to sustain an average man in relatively good shape and 1,800 calories per day is enough to sustain an average woman in relatively good shape. If more calories than is needed are ingested, weight gain is eminent.
Tipping the Scales
Americans have grown out of touch with their weight and their health, as well as where their food comes from. Consuming more calories than are used results in weight gain. Likewise, consuming calories from unhealthy sources also results in packing on unhealthy pounds. With the onset of dining out comes another interesting fact: Milk consumption is down but cheese consumption is up and the new drink of choice is soda or fruit juices filled with high fructose corn syrup. Part of the reasoning behind America's additional calorie consumption has to do with the continual addition of new and varied processed foods, as well as from two family incomes, and the level of convenience fast food restaurants offer. Convenience is always popular in families where both parents work and time is limited. Often, the end result of having more money and more variety is more spending and more experimenting.
Learning to Eat Healthy
While the U.S. is currently a land overflowing with obesity, Americans are starting to see the light and work toward it. Over the past decade, more fruits and vegetables have been consumed than in the previous decades. Though grains are also being consumed at an all time high, most Americans still consume much more refined grain than healthy whole grains. Perhaps more and better food education is necessary. To combat the problem of obesity in the United States, First Lady Michelle Obama has implemented a dietary plan called "Let's Move" that targets children. Her goal is to eliminate child obesity in one generation.
"It's an ambitious goal, but we don't have time to wait," she explains. "We've got to stop citing statistics and wringing our hands and feeling guilty, and get going on this issue." To help combat feelings of inadequacy when it comes to feeding your family, the United States Department of Agriculture has outlined a new food pyramid to help simplify matters and offer individualized menus and dietary information.