May 17, 2021

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Nutrition plays an important role in overall health, so it’s wise to carefully consider what you eat and drink every day. After all, while certain foods can provide your body with vital nutrients that are capable of helping to protect against a variety of ailments, there are others that might actually cause an increase in your risk of health problems. In other words, your diet can affect much more than just your weight. 

Do Americans follow a healthy diet, or is there room for improvement? What does the average American diet look like? To help shed some light on this topic, and see how this way of eating has been impacting people’s weight, we’ve compiled some interesting stats below.  

Top Statistics

  1. The average American diet has too many calories from fat and added sugar, and it is also too high in saturated fat, sodium, and refined grains.1
  2.  As of 2019, Americans were consuming less added sugar and more poultry, nuts, and whole grains compared to two decades ago. But more still needs to be done to further improve their eating habits.5
  3. Experts have estimated that the average American consumes anywhere from 2,500 to 3,600 calories every day.6
  4. The average American consumes around 17 teaspoons of added sugar every day.8
  5. A study discovered that the average American gets 57.9% of their calories from foods that are ultra-processed.7

The Standard American Diet Isn’t All That Healthy

When you think of the standard American diet (also known as SAD), you probably think of foods like burgers and fries. And you wouldn’t be too far from the truth. Here are some stats to show you what the average American eats on a regular basis. 

  • Many Americans eat a lot of fast food. It was determined that one in four of them consume fast food daily.4
  • In a year, the average American may eat roughly 3 pounds of sugar each week, totaling around 130 pounds annually.4
  • Americans also rely heavily on processed foods, to the point that these make up nearly 70% of their diet.4
  • Around 58% of an average American’s calories will come from processed foods every day.9
  • The average American eats too much red meat and too many low-quality carbs, and they also consume too much saturated fat.5

Where Do Americans Get Their Protein and Energy?

What foods do Americans typically eat to get the energy they need to power through the day? And where do they get their protein? Here are a few stats that can provide more insight into what the average person in the U.S. eats on a daily basis. 

  • Despite the fact that you can get protein from plants -- and vegan and vegetarian diets started trending -- the average American derives the majority of their protein from animal sources, such as processed meat and unprocessed red meat.5 
  • Many Americans derive their energy from carbohydrates that are considered low in quality, as well as from sugary beverages. It was found that 21.2% of their energy intake came from refined grains, potatoes, and fruit juice. Beverages and foods containing added sugars made up an additional 14.4%.5
  • Americans often go over the daily recommended limit for saturated fat. And, on average, they get over 10% of their energy from this type of fat.5
  • Over 50% of the calories that Americans consume daily are derived from foods like pizza, burgers, fries, chips, baked goods, candy, and soda.6
  • Less than 1/3 of the average American’s daily calories are derived from foods like vegetables, whole grains, and fruits.6

Americans Can Take Several Steps to Improve Their Diet

There are many things that the average American can do differently if they want to improve the way they eat. Here are some stats to indicate areas that need to be improved. 

  • The average American diet doesn’t contain enough plants. A study found that 9% of Americans reached the recommended intake of vegetables, and 13% met the recommendation for fruits.7
  • A study revealed that nearly 1/3 of Americans consume at least one sweetened or sugary beverage daily.7 
  • Drinking pure water is important, but many Americans fail to get adequate amounts of water every day. Studies have found that 43% of adults consume less than four cups of water daily, over 50% of kids and teens don’t drink enough water daily, and 25% of kids and teens don’t consume any water daily.7  

Many Americans Are Overweight or Obese

A poor diet can lead to unwanted weight gain. And when you are overweight or obese, your risk of certain diseases may increase as well. Unfortunately, many Americans aren’t at a healthy weight, as shown by the statistics below. 

  • Over 73% of adults in the United States were classified as overweight or obese.10 
  • In 2018, 75% of adult males and 65% of adult females were overweight or obese in the United States.6
  • The adult obesity rate in the United States went over 40% for the first time when it hit 42.4%.2
  • In the United States, one out of every three adults is considered obese.3
  • Since 2008, the national adult obesity rate for the U.S. went up by 26%.2
  • The childhood obesity rate in the U.S. has also been on the rise. Among individuals between 2 and 19 years of age, 19.3% of them were considered obese.2    
  • The state with the highest rate of adult obesity was Mississippi, while Colorado was the state with the lowest adult obesity rate.2   

Overall, the average American diet isn’t as healthy as it could be, so individuals need to make their own smart choices every day to improve the way they fuel their bodies. By focusing more on minimally processed foods, as well as fresh and natural foods, Americans can get more nutrition with less fat, less sugar, and fewer calories. And those simple steps might help Americans reduce their weight, especially if they also lead an active lifestyle.  

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