The American Diet Then and Now

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Americans eat about 570 more calories per day than we did in 1970, and many experts believe that the culprit is snacking. We all do it. Most middle school students come home from school and eat chips, candy, or crackers without even giving it a second thought. Constant snacking can´t be the only thing to blame in the steady expansion of America’s waistline. Our portion sizes have been SUPERSIZED. What has caused this gluttony and is there any way to reverse this process?

We are a society of constant eaters. At most restaurants you can order an appetizer, which by no means makes sense. It’s food that you eat before you eat your food. According to a study by the nutrition department at UNC Chapel Hill, Americans began eating more in the `70s and `80s but in recent years overeating has become even more prevalent, Americans never stop eating! It used to be that we would eat three meals a day, and if we had a snack it would be unsweetened coffee or tea. Nowadays everywhere you turn there is food, if you go on a short road trip there are a plethora of signs advertising quick drive-thru restaurants that have gigantic portions.

Many Americans joke about the ‘see food’ diet. We see food and we eat it. We have come to expect food at every turn. People now panic at the thought of spending a couple of hours somewhere where there might not be refreshments on hand. Despite their growing obsession with food, fewer Americans are willing to sit down and enjoy it. Many Americans have busy schedules and as a result we have no time to have a sit-down meal. We want meals that we can hold in one hand. As a result, we choose foods that are loaded with flavor and calories for immediate gratification, only to feel hungry again an hour or two later. This makes us want to eat more and more of the foods that won’t satisfy us.

It’s not just salty foods expanding the nation’s waistline, sugary drinks like soda, fruit juice and sweetened coffees pack on the pounds too. We are drinking in extra weight – several hundred of the 570 extra calories mentioned at the beginning of this article come just from drinks!  The average size can of Coke has about 140 calories and 39 grams of added sugar.  A grande Starbucks frappuccino has a whopping 500 calories – that’s what you would find in 26 Hershey’s Kisses!

We have to focus a lot more attention on cutting down how often we eat, and how much, if we’re truly going to do something about this as a society. In a world where people are perpetually bombarded by food and drink advertising, it won’t be easy. We don’t need to have food every couple hours, so we need to change the environment so that we don’t encounter food everywhere we go, a- little willpower can go a long way. We need to change the way we eat because, as a society, we weigh way too much. So, think twice the next time you reach for that bag of chips.

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The American Diet Then and Now