Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More data on changing consumption patterns

As a follow-up on a previous post about the changing availability of various foods, where I showed that we'd been following the experts' advice yet getting less healthy, here are some graphs on actual consumption -- not just using availability as a proxy. I've cobbled them together from various editions of The Statistical Abstract of the United States, which has a chapter on food, health, and nutrition.

They only go back to 1985, but the overall pattern is the same -- we've been doing what we were told to do. The higher incidence of heart disease and obesity cannot be blamed on our not eating what the experts bullied us to eat. All the data are per capita consumption, and all units are in pounds. Since the picture is basically the same as before, I don't have anything new to say. The graphs below are to show that consumption data confirm what the availability data suggested.

See Notes at the end for what separate categories are lumped into larger ones, e.g. "animal fats and oils." Click picture to enlarge.


1. Animal fats / oils includes butter, lard, and tallow. Vegetable fats / oils includes margarine, shortening, and salad dressing.

2. Lower-fat milk includes anything but whole -- 2%, 1%, fat-free, etc.

3. Lunchmeat cheeses include American and Cheddar, while Pizza cheeses include Italian and Mozzarella.


  1. Aloha Agnostic. Please check out my latest blog post and tell me what you think....I recently found a blog written by Tom Naughton, the guy who made the movie "Fathead," which was a response to the movie "Supersize Me."

    He did a little research into one of the biggest studies ever conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in conjunction with the AARP, which has than been used as one of the primary "Studies" cited by countless articles, columns and news reports regarding "animal fats cause cancer" propaganda.

  2. Karl Smith, not a crank like you and Mangan (I keed, I keed), says the diet experts have no idea what they're talking about. He's just as dismissive of the people who think the problem is carbs as those who think its calories or fat though.

  3. Well then he doesn't know what regulates fat storage -- almost all due to insulin, which responds to glucose, which increases because of carb intake. (And protein intake, but that also stimulates glucagon, which has the opposite effect of insulin, so it's mostly a wash.)

    He's trying to triangulate, but he's still wrong.

  4. Dear Agnostic: Have you considered the logic of the ecological fallacy in your inferences? You can read about it on the Wikipedia.

  5. You're an idiot. To reiterate, though: these two series of graphs test the hypothesis that if we follow the experts' advice, then we'll become healthier.

    We've followed the experts' advice, yet heart disease and obesity rates are worse than before.

    You can read about first-order logic on the Wikipedia.

  6. Agnostic

    Isn't the point that following the advice once lots of other people are already following the advice changes the efficacy of the advice. The trick with shares is to buy before everyone else does and sell before everyone else does. Maybe something similar applies with food. Why? Because high demand inevitably leads to more intensive farming methods, and these will change the character of the meat.

    I remember when we were being told to eat less red meat and more salmon. At the time, salmon was relatively lean. But the need to provide massive amounts of salmon led to intensive salmon farms. The salmon were kept in a confined space, therefore couldn't move as much, therefore became "couch potatoes". Being in such closer proximity they needed more antibiotics to suppress illnesses.

    Has anyone compared the nutritional content of, say, wild Alaskan salmon, with factory farmed salmon? What are the results?

    If I'm right, the best meat to eat will be Moose, Elk and other relatively rare foods.


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