Trends in food availability, 1909-2007

Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1530S-1536S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2010.28701G. Epub 2010 Mar 24.


The increase in childhood obesity mainly reflects increased energy intake. However, it is not clear which food categories are responsible for this increase. Food availability data, which are calculated from annual food production, imports, beginning stocks, subtracting exports, ending stocks, and nonfood uses, provide clues about which categories are the primary contributors. Data from 1909 to 2007 show increases in per capita availability of several product classes: added oils increased from 16.1 to 39.4 kg/y, meat increased from 56.3 to 91.2 kg/y, cheese increased from 1.7 to 14.9 kg/y, and frozen dairy products increased from 0.7 to 11.5 kg/y. From 1970 to 2007, per capita availability of sweeteners increased from 54.1 to 62.0 kg/y. Carbonated beverage availability has increased, partly at the expense of fluid milk. Flour and cereal availability decreased from 1909 until the late 1960s but rebounded thereafter. Availability of fruit, fruit juices, and vegetables has increased. We conclude that the major contributors to increased energy intake over the last century are oils, shortening, meat, cheese, and frozen desserts, with more recent increases in added sweeteners, fruit, fruit juices, and vegetables. These changes may have influenced the prevalence of childhood obesity.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Beverages
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cheese
  • Child
  • Dairy Products
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism
  • Energy Intake
  • Fishes
  • Food Handling / methods
  • Food Supply / history*
  • Fruit
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Meat
  • Nutritive Value
  • Obesity / classification
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Poultry
  • Prevalence
  • Social Change / history
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vegetables


  • Dietary Fats