7 Big Ways the Average American Diet Has Changed Since 1970

Doughnuts from Dunkin" Donuts, French fries from McDonalds and fried chicken from Kentucky Fried Chicken are displayed as staples of the American diet

Doughnuts from Dunkin” Donuts, French fries from McDonald’s and fried chicken from Kentucky Fried Chicken are displayed as staples of the American diet | Robert Sullivan/AFP/Getty Images

America has changed, and not just in a demographic or cultural sense. Though many of us wouldn’t know what the world was like in 1970, reading through magazines, watching movies, or even talking to older relatives about the differences will make it obvious. Among those changes is the way we eat. The average American’s diet is drastically different than it was in 1970, just as a person in 1970 ate very differently from an individual in 1900.

Things change, tastes change, and meals change. We have cheaper, better-tasting, and more abundant food than ever before. But it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re eating better. A report from Pew Research has outlined that in fairly good detail. “Americans’ eating habits, in short, are all over the place, at least according to our analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data,” the report reads.

By looking at the average American’s daily caloric intake, based on the USDA’s Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System, and breaking down where those calories are coming from, Pew’s team was able to uncover several ways in which the diet of someone in the year 1970 would differ from a modern American. As you might suspect, we’re eating more — but what we’re eating has also shifted.

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