If sugar and added sweeteners are the culprits, we should be making some strides at curbing obesity based on the data plotted below.

Total Caloric Sweeteners

Total Caloric Sweeteners in US in pounds of consumption per capita

Refined Sugar Consumption

Per capita refined sugar consumption in pounds

High Fructose Corn Syrup Consumption

Pounds of high fructose corn syrup consumed per capita

Note the peak of total sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup in 1999 and the subsequent drop in consumption of both. Can you guess the significance of the red point in all three graphs?

Based on the data graphed above from Table 49—U.S. total estimated deliveries of caloric sweeteners for domestic food and beverage use, by calendar year, one would think obesity in the US would be on the decline since 2000. The graphic below says otherwise.

Obesity In US Over Time


Average Daily Per Capita Calories

Source – http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-availability-(per-capita)-data-system/.aspx

If sweeteners aren’t the culprit, what is? The graph below shows where the average person’s calories come from. The increase in fats and oils is due to more companies reporting their production numbers and is not attributed to a sharp increase in consumption but a more accurate representation of where those numbers likely should have been over time.

Meat and flour and grain consumption have leveled off. While we are consuming on average 500 more calories per day than we did in 1970, what we eat may not be the only culprit.

Based on the 2013 Physical Activity Council Report, roughly 33% of Americans are active to a healthy level.


Activity Levels


The number of sedentary jobs has increased while the number of physically demanding jobs have decreased. We have not compensated for this by becoming more active in our leisure time.

What do you think? What is the greatest contributing factor to the obesity epidemic in the US? Is there one major contributor or are many factors to blame? What strategy would you take to fight the fight?