Due diligence: How that “average” of 3,774 calories per day comes about

Two bowls of pasta heaping with a meat and veggie filled sauceSome studies report that Americans consume an average of 3,774 calories a day.  BoingBoing, however, slaps this reported figure with a bit of their own digging which turned up this interesting revelation:

Americans aren’t, technically, eating an average of 3774 calories per day. This figure is calculated by looking at food produced, divided by the number of Americans. It assumes we’re eating all that, but, in reality, according to environmental scientist Gidon Eshel we really only eat about 2800 calories per day. That whopping 3774 includes both what we eat—and what we waste.

I still find it eye-rolling to note that the author of the BoingBoing post starts off the above quote and their own research into the 3,774 figure by remarking “Sure, Americans eat a lot. But 3774 calories a day?”  Again that assumption that “Well hu-yuck!  Of COURSE us fatty Americans eat “a lot”!  We’re total gluttons! Dontcha know?” This knee-jerk reaction that belies an underlying belief that anyone fat totally must overeat to “get that way” has been explained before but perhaps a refresher is in need?  Here’s a good quote then from the Junkfood Science post linked above:

When obese people are at the size genetically normal for them, their energy balance and requirements per unit of lean body mass are indistinguishable from you or me or any other ‘normal’ weight individual, said Dr. Rudolph L. Leibel, M.D., now at Columbia University, whose laboratory at Rockefeller University, New York, has conducted some of the most detailed, complex metabolic research on energy balance and the biochemistry of fat. “An obese person is metabolically just like a lean person, except they’re bigger,” he said.

Still, I have to commend the author over at BoingBoing for digging into a number that seemed fishy, even if they still have that overwhelmingly stereotypical “of COURSE we eat a lot” belief.   If only people did that sort of questioning of more “studies” before clamoring: “See? SEE?!??  My biased hatred of fat people is based on FACTS!”

The BoingBoing piece delves more into the wasting of food aspect as well which brings up some interesting points about energy wasted with all that wasted food.  It is worth a read.


2 thoughts on “Due diligence: How that “average” of 3,774 calories per day comes about

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