For a long time, the developed world has been fighting a pandemic different from the coronavirus – the pandemic of obesity. Nutrition statistics show that calorically rich food sources that are poor in nutritive elements are all around us, and the motivation behind consuming them can be rooted in our lifestyle, economic situation, culture, and, ultimately, life philosophy.
How much do we lose both individually and as a nation due to obesity, and how many of us are succeeding in balancing our weight? What are we supposed to look out for when aiming for the perfect balance? These facts and figures tackle these questions, so if you are curious to find the answers, read on.
Top 10 Key Nutrition Statistics & Facts
- 42.4% of the US population is overweight.
- One-third of the American population is on a special nutrition program.
- The intermittent fasting diet is the most popular regiment in the US.
- Americans are the world’s champions in sugar intake.
- The average American consumes at least 1.5 times more than the recommended daily amount of calories.
- 90% of Americans exceed the recommended daily dose of sodium.
- 46% of college students can’t afford a healthy meal.
- Vitamin B6 deficiency is the most common nutritive shortage among the US population.
- Americans have become less interested in reading the nutrition info panel.
- $1.72 trillion were lost on costs related to obesity in the US, in 2016.
The Latest American Nutrition Facts & Dieting Statistics
1. 42.4% of the US population is overweight – CDC nutrition report for 2017- 2018 reveals.
CDC data exposes that 42.4% of the US population in the period 2017- 2018 was obese, with no significant differences in obesity prevalence among different age groups and gender. However, around 9.2% was severely obese, and there were more women in this group than men.
In the last 20 years, there is a 12 percentage point increase in the share of overweight people in comparison with the period 1999-2000, when around 30.5% of the population was overweight, and 4.7% was severely obese.
2. One-third of the American population is on a special nutrition program, dieting statistics from 2017 show.
(Food Insight; Food Insight)
The 2018 report of the International Food Information Council (IFIC) indicates that 36% of the Americans in 2017 were following special food regiments. Out of these, 16% were loosely following the carbohydrate restrictive diet, whereas 10% were adherers to the intermittent fasting diet. Moreover, 7% were practicing the raw, paleo diet, and 5% were following the strict low-carb diet (keto diet).
Americans aged 19-34 were most likely to follow a special nutritional regiment.
3. In 2018, 20% of Americans were trying to boost cardiovascular health by following a special diet, statistics reveal.
(Food Insight; HHS)
Although for 18% of the Americans that are following alimentation patterns or diets, losing weight is the main reason, 20% in 2018 were adhering to a diet to maintain good cardiovascular health, and 13% were dieting to experience better energy levels.
However, most of them are willing to diet excluding exercise altogether, as per fitness industry statistics. Namely, less than 5% of American adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day, and gym membership statistics are confirming this.
4. 9% of the American population follow a strict vegan or vegetarian diet, statistics show.
American eating habits statistics obtained through a Pew Research survey in 2016 shows that 12% of the younger Americans (18-49 years) declared as mostly vegetarians or vegans, whereas only 5% of those over 50 stated the same. Of the 9% responders that followed a strict non-meat diet, 3% claimed to be vegans. Veganism and vegetarianism are equally popular with both US men and women.
Unsurprisingly, individuals that have food allergies were more likely to be strict vegans or vegetarians in 2018 (21%).
5. The intermittent fasting diet is the most popular healthy eating trend, statistics from Google in 2019 reveal.
According to the most googled food plans in 2019, intermittent fasting is the number one trending diet across the US. Praised for detoxifying the body and enhancing immune responses, this diet is based on controlling the time of eating, rather than the type of food.
For example, the basic approach is 16-hour daily fasts, during which only non-caloric drinks are consumed. The weekly format consists of 5 days of eating and 2 non-consecutive days of fasting. The next most popular ones on the Google list were Dr. Sebi’s diet, the Noom diet, and the 1,200 calories diet.
Average American Diet Statistics & Facts
6. Americans are the world’s champions in sugar intake.
(World Atlas; CBS News)
With a total average daily intake of 126.4 grams of sugar, Americans are the biggest consumers of sugar across the globe. Given that the WHO recommendations for maximum daily sugar intake is 25g, the amount that the average American consumes is more than fivefold the highest recommendable intake and more than tenfold the lowest (11g).
Germans consume 102.9g of sugar per day, per capita, ranking second on the global level. In the Netherlands, people consume 102.5g, ranking 3rd, followed by Ireland (96.7 g), and Australia (95.6 g).
7. American diet statistics reveal that the average American consumes almost double the recommended dose of added sugar per day.
(Angeles Institute; Statista; Statista)
The average American consumes about 71 grams of added (not naturally occurring) sugar each day, even though the highest recommended daily amount is 25g for women and 38g for men.
The addiction to sugar is very pronounced in Americans, taking off very early in their childhood. Precisely speaking, girls and boys that are 2-5 years old consume, on average, a staggering 88g and 96 grams of sugar per day.
8. US nutrition statistics show that 90% of Americans exceed the recommended daily dose of sodium.
(WHO; Live Science; Heart)
On average, Americans consume more than 3.4 grams of sodium per day, and 9 in 10 of them are surpassing the recommended dose for sodium intake posed by WHO. The official guidelines for sodium intake state that the daily dose should not exceed 5g of salt, which is equal to 2g of sodium. AHA, however, recommends 1.5g of sodium daily.
The most common health complication is elevated blood pressure, which, in turn, often leads to chronic diseases.
9. Stats on healthy eating reveal that the average American consumes at least 1.5 times more calories than the recommended daily amount.
(Business Insider; CDC)
FAOSTAT 2013 data reveals that the average American consumes over 3,600 calories each day, which is around 144% of the daily recommended intake for men (2500 calories).This is an even more devastating statistic when one considers that, for women, the recommended maximum quantity per day is 2000 calories.
Still, CDC nutrition facts state that up until 60 years of age men have a slightly higher chance of obesity than women, a ratio that inverses in those older than 60.
Poor Nutrition Statistics
10. One in every nine people around the globe suffers from hunger.
(FAO; World Hunger)
In 2017, around 820 million people worldwide were lacking food. The most alarming situation was in Africa, where an estimated 19.8% of the population was hungry.
In 2018, 9.2% of the world’s population was categorized as suffering severe food insecurity, shortage of food, and hunger, whereas some 1.3 billion people, (17.2%) experienced moderate food insecurity. This devastating data adds up to 26.4% of the world population that do not have enough food, or some 2 billion people. Out of this number, poor nutrition statistics reveal, 9 million people die due to hunger and hunger-related illnesses every year.
11. Smokers have worse diets than non-smokers.
Smoking statistics reveal that American smokers are consuming more caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and fats than their non-smoking counterparts. Furthermore, their fruit, vegetables, and fiber intake amounts are also lower than in non-smokers. In addition, smoking depletes the body of vitamins.
Although a recent study reveals a weight gain of 2.6-5.3 kg in the first five years after quitting smoking, for this weight gain to match the negative effect of smoking, individuals would have to gain 40 kg.
12. Nutrition statistics reveal that non-Hispanic African American women are at the highest risk of vitamin and iron deficiency leading up to anemia.
As much as 55% of the non-Hispanic African American women have vitamin deficiencies. This risk is also elevated for those living in low-income households (40%).Additionally, 37% of women and 41% of those in the age bracket of 19-50 years are at risk of developing alimentary insufficiencies. Pregnant and breastfeeding women present the highest risk (47%) according to the NHANES.
Furthermore, underweight individuals have a 42% risk of lacking essential nutrients, whereas, surprisingly for obese individuals, the risk is also high (39%).
13. Dieting statistics reveals that vitamin B6 deficiency is the most common deficiency among the US population.
CDC nutrition findings show that 10.5% of Americans lack vitamin B6, making this the most common nutritional deficiency nationwide. Furthermore, 31% of the U.S. population is at risk of at least one vitamin deficiency or anemia. Iron deficiencies were registered in around 9.5% of the women aged 12 to 49 and in 6.7% of children up to 5 years old.
Additionally, 8.1% had vitamin D deficiency, the third most common deficiency among Americans, followed by vitamin C, and vitamin B12 deficiency present in 6% and 2% of the population, respectively.
14. McDonalds nutrition facts reveal that Big Mac contains 50% of the maximum recommended daily dose of salt.
(BHF; Cleveland Clinic; Spoon University)
Sodium is hidden in many processed products that are used in the making of some of the most favorite fast food dishes in the US. Precisely speaking, the Big Mac contains 2.3g of salt, and just one single slice of pizza can have up to 760 mg of sodium. Moreover, chicken nuggets can contain 600 mg of sodium in just 3 ounces.
Sandwiches, especially those that contain meat, cheese, and many sauces can easily contain more than 1.5g of sodium. For example, the “Big Tasty with bacon” contains about 3.7g salt.
15. College students and nutrition statistics reveal that 46% of college students can’t afford a healthy meal.
The results from a survey encompassing 43,000 college students at 66 schools reveal that healthy nutrition is a big problem among college students. Around 14% of those in private colleges, 36% of those in college campuses, and 42% of community college students were considered as “food insecure”, or not having enough to eat. The inability of paying for balanced meals was reported by 46% of them.
16. 89.3% of college students, nutrition statistic reveal, are fully aware of the dangers of processed food, but they still keep consuming it.
The American eating habits statistics reveal that even though students in college were in vast majority knowledgeable about additives in processed foods and their negative effect on health, 65.3% of those participating in the study still keep consuming it on a daily basis.
Most of the interviewed students also agreed that fast food contains unhealthy additives (61.2%), and many of them avoided consuming fast food (85.1%). College students were also aware that drinking soda is unhealthy, and only 18.2% of them reported drinking soda every day.
17. The US nutrition statistics reveal that around $1.72 trillion were lost on costs related to obesity in 2016.
(The Washington Times)
The obesity epidemic in the US ended up costing the US economy $1.72 trillion in 2016 out of which, the biggest part of $1.24 trillion was a result of lost productivity.
The healthcare expenditures of the individuals suffering from obesity is elevated by at least $1,429 on annual level, as per estimations made in 2008. Furthermore, around 64% of the cases of diabetes in the US are correlated to obesity, costing an average of $7,109 per treatment, and productivity costs of $12,633.
18. Healthy eating statistics in 2018 show that 75% of American adults consume food supplements.
(Statista; Osteopathic; Nutritional Outlook)
In 2018, around four-fifths of the Americans take food supplements, which are very popular among Americans. The most popular among these supplements are vitamin and mineral supplements (98%), special supplements (51%), and botanicals (41%).
Medical doctors recommended the necessary type of vitamins supplements for (51%) of vitamin consumers, and 39% did so following their own independent research, whereas 22% were recommendations from a relative or a friend.
American exercise statistics show that people who take dietary supplements are more likely to exercise regularly (70%).
19. Healthy eating statistics reveal that Americans have become less interested in reading the nutrition info panel on alimentation products.
Interesting nutrition facts in 2016 show that almost half of the US population (49%) over 18 read the nutrition info panel on a product, a significantly lower share since 2013 when 67% of the adult Americans paid attention to the nutrients on the product labels. In 2014, this percentage was 65%.
On the other hand, on average, 39% of the population checked the information about calories and other nutritional values on the packages of products in 2016, as opposed to 45% of the adults interviewed in 2013.
How does lack of nutrition affect the body?
Consuming food that lacks in variety or volume leads to a phenomenon called malnutrition. Malnutrition happens when the body lacks the essential nutrients to function normally. Most commonly, the lack of nutrition implies a lack of vitamins and minerals that are essential for different organs of the body.
These deficiencies manifest as fatigue, pallor, trouble breathing, heart palpitations, confusion, skin, hair, and mood changes, hormonal imbalances in women, and many other detrimental effects, out of which the most severe is of course death.
How healthy is the average American?
(CDC; Fight Chronic Disease)
The CDC nutrition fact sheet implies that the health of the average American is not that great. American exercise statistics are also confirming this, since they show that just one-third of the US citizens are getting the necessary weekly exercise.
In particular, 19% of young children and teenagers along with 40% of American adults are obese, and this can lead to chronic health complications like diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer.
The chronic disease statistics over the years reveal a progressive increase in the number of Americans that struggle with them. More precisely, 48.3% of the US population in 2020 has a chronic disease, a number that is likely to increase to 49.2% in 2030, as per the projections of healthcare officials.
What defines good nutrition?
A nutrition regimen of good quality has the following characteristics:
- It provides the consumer with the adequate energy needed for successful completion of daily tasks, maintenance, repair and correct functioning of the body;
- It promotes nutrition habits that are sustainable and balanced;
- It doesn’t bring too much of anything but a little of everything that is fresh, clean and contains essential nutrients in good quantities;
- It is a well-combined aliment that supports the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals in the digestive system.
- It is an immuno-friendly individual diet, that doesn’t cause intolerance or allergies.
What are the burdens of nutrition globally?
(UNICEF; WHO; The World Counts; World Hunger)
Inadequate nutrition presents a double health burden globally. On the one hand, around 10.7% of the global population (in 2016) suffered from undernourishment. On the other hand, around 39% (in 2018) of the world’s adult population was overweight.
According to UNICEF, around 5.6 million children under the age of 5 die of malnutrition each year, whereas 40 million children under the age of 5 were overweight and obese.
Each year nutrition facts reveal that about 9 million people worldwide die of hunger and hunger-related illnesses, while at the same time, an estimated 2.8 million lose their lives to the consequences of being overweight or obese.
The premise “less is more” apparently works for healthy eating as well. Americans are paying heavily for their food choices, both materially and by the lost years of their lives.
Obesity is a devastating phenomenon, killing millions of people around the globe every year. However, these nutrition statistics are showing an increasingly proactive approach to losing weight and increased nutrition literacy across generations.
- Allied Academies
- Angeles Institute
- Business Insider
- CBS News
- Cleveland Clinic
- Fight Chronic Disease
- Food Insight
- Food Insight
- Live Science
- Nutritional Outlook
- Pew Research
- Sleek Geek
- Spoon University
- The Washington Times
- The World Counts
- USA News
- World Atlas
- World Hunger