Where Are You Spending Your Calories?

A new study out in the Nutrition Journal takes a look at where the average American is spending her daily calories, and the results were somewhat surprising.

Americans spend one trillion dollars a year on food (yup, that’s trillion with a “T”), and half of those food dollars are spent on eating outside the home. So, it would make sense to think that at least half of our calories are coming from restaurant meals—maybe even more—right? 

Think again. Turns out only 30 percent of calories consumed came from meals eaten outside the home. Which means that just limiting dining out isn’t going to impact Americans’ waistlines as significantly as we might have thought; we’ll have to do some work at home, too.

Here are some more startling statistics:

  • Carbs make up nearly 13 percent of children’s diets, including store-bought, grain-based desserts (4.8% alone), breads (4.4%), pasta (3.6%), and reduced-fat milk (3.3%). That’s not exactly a balanced diet.
  • Adults fared even worse with the significant addition of soda, meaning that sugars and carbohydrates made up more than 15 percent of their calorie intake, including soda (4.5%), breads (4.2%), grain-based desserts (3.9%), and pasta (2.7%). 
  • Pizza away from home provided 2.2 percent of calories in the diets of children and 3.4 percent in the diets of adolescents. Just pizza!
  • The vast majority of our calories—63 to70 percent—were purchased at supermarkets or convenience stores.
  • School lunches make up 10 percent of children’s calorie intake, making it even more important that we ensure they’re getting healthy foods at school.
  • Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks from fast food restaurants provided approximately 1.2% of calories. That may seem small, but that’s sodas from fast food restaurants alone.

Researchers for the study analyzed data from 22,852 people who participated in the five-year National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys and then sorted out their nutritional intake by age and food group.

Photo Credit: Keoni Cabral via Compfightcc