Do Americans Eat 3,790 Calories Per Day?

By Jim F

The FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organization) has published its latest yearbook on-line. The statistics are eye-openers to say the least.The 2004 statistical yearbook contains profiles of virtually every country in the world. One of the statistics available is per capita consumption.

A brief perusal of the USA yearbook shows a per Capita Daily Consumption of 3,790 Calories for the 2000-2002 years.

Forget all the complex reasons for weight gain.

Per Capita Daily Consumption – USA

That’s simply too much energy intake.

In stark (and awful) contrast is a country like Zimbabwe – where daily consumption has been dropping over the last 20 years. The 2000-2002 years show a daily consumption of 2,020 Calories.


  1. Oxymoron

    I went and read this report. The answer is there in the small print. The figure represents available calories/population. It includes wasted food and food given to domestic animals.
    The same report lists the UK somewhere around 3440 (about 50% higher than the UK government figures).

  2. Debra Blouin

    I think that 3800 cal is not an unlikely total daily caloric intake and for many Americans. The healthfulness of the individual diet is going to depend entirely on it’s macronutrient composition.
    But first off, I take some exception to the tone of the article’s implication–because whether I eat 3000 cal or 1000 cal has absolutely no impact on whether or not the Zimbabwean can eat a certain amount of calories in a day.
    I had a conversation with my daughter yesterday about this very issue. She works in a restaurant and was agonizing last night over the amount of food waste she saw- leftovers and things like that-and I pointed out that once served the meal, whether one eats the meal or throws half of it away has no impact on whether or not a homeless person goes hungry. Food consumption is not a zero-sum game.
    Throwing out the starving kids in Africa or the social justice warrior rhetoric has almost no relevance to dietary issues like health, weight etc. There’s no evidence that Americans’ eating less will result in Africans consuming or having access to more; that has to do with development, it has to do with infrastructure, and it has to do with African national independence from the global “energy scare” and from the political maneuvering of their leadership Hunger and starvation in Africa has to do with warfare and with foreign intervention that cannot possibly help the way it purports it intends to help. And obesity in America has to do with the manipulation of the food supply and dietary guidelines and a concomitant expansion of the role of sugar and carbohydrates in the diet.
    You literally cannot eat enough meat/protein in isolation (you would literally get sick to your stomach eating two pounds of bacon or 8 eggs at a sitting) to get fat, anymore than you can eat enough vegetables to get fat (the volume of food you would have to consume would be impossible) but you can with daily double doses of bread and potatoes and pasta and donuts and soda and chips and lattes–yep, that’ll make you fat. And we have known this for centuries. If a male between 30 and 45 ate 4000 calories a day, but with less than 700 coming from carbohydrates, he would probably be on the lean side with low triglycerides and narrower waist. If the same guy ate 2500 calories with the RDA of 1300 coming from carbs, he will be toying with metabolic syndrome and overweight, if not obesity and pre-diabetes.

  3. bibigirl

    that’s complete bull shit. I’m 18, weight 110pounds, if i only consumed 1100calls, i’d be dead now…. There’s days I eat McDonald type meals twice a day that’s 3000cals, and eat a huge bag of chips (1600call in 300g), go to the cinema eat a mega popcorn, biggest nachos portion and that’s not even calculated in dinner or breakfast… (Yes I do have a fast metabolism.)

    An average person needs to consume 2000-2500calories a day to be healthy… I ate that when I was anorexic at age 11 i stopped growing at 5″3 i weighted under 60pounds…. I ate a huge bag of chips everyday because my mom was concerned that i was so thin… I didn’t gain any weight till I started eating over 3000-4000calories… Now at 110pounds (50kg), Im losing weight again at over 4000 cals a day for some reason :/ I don’t exercise anymore either…

    Living on under 2000 calories a day is NOT healthy and will get you bigger in the end because your body will be sparingly with food and your metabolism slows down… Not good atall!

  4. marimar

    i really am happy for you but i neeeeeeeed answers!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Kori


    i just had my first baby and gained 50 pounds now i look amazing

  6. chris

    I feel guilty if I eat more than 1800/day. And I’m a 16 year old boy.

  7. No

    You’re wrong, Americans should eat less fat, but they shouldn’t eat more meat, they should eat more fresh veggies and fruits, and lean meat and fish. Also, you can get proteins from veggies too. You don’t need to eat a 8 oz steak at each meal, and that’s twice the amount of protein you need anyway. People should cut down on the amount of read meat, and eat more veggies.

    Also people should drink less soda and more water and tea, especially green tea which is an anti-oxidant and is known to help burn fat!!

  8. erica

    you got my name

  9. erica

    i know what you mean

  10. ssadaksd

    no one should.

  11. hesha

    how does anyone really believe this, this report might be the cause of so much obesity.

  12. Anna

    Just so you guys know, I’m from the USA, and I eat around 1100 calories a day, plus I live an active lifestyle. I’m an average size, and most people I know are too. The generalization of American’s as fat is just that, a generalization. I don’t believe this statistic, and I’ve spent 20 years observing North American’s.

    • Nicole

      A big Mac meal contains 1350 calories. McDonald’s estimates it sells 1,506,849 a day. (550 million a year.) even if they’re DOUBLING their estimates 753,424 are sold a day. And they have TONS of other meals equal in calories, as do all the other chains. So I don’t think your 1100 calorie is average.
      1/3 of us are obese, I don’t know how you can walk down the street, or go to Walmart, and honestly say you think that’s not accurate.

  13. Adam

    The thermic effect of food represents a negligible increase in total burned calories.. in this case, not nearly a high enough percentage of the total to mention.

  14. Steve

    Of course everyone doesn’t eat that way. It’s an average, which means that while some people eat healthy foods in proper proportions some also eat as much as two or three times the amount of calories that they really need. I work with a man who weighs over 400 lbs and eats an average of almost 3500 calories just while he is at work, in an 8 hour period. And I also work with people that are on a 1200 calorie a day diet or less as well.

  15. klynn

    Everyone doesn’t drink 5 to 11 sodas a day, and I bet that wasn’t even included in the formula used. I know plenty of people who don’t eat every single meal at McDonalds or drink tons of soda.

  16. Steve

    Americans on average are much less physically active than people here 50 or 100 years ago and we are consuming more that ever before. I know people that actually believe that stuff like juice and soft drinks don’t count because you drink them rather than eat them. And how many people eat fast food 3 or more times every week? I bet you won’t find many meals off the value menu that have fewer than 1000 calories. We are eating too much of the wrong types of foods and doing too little.

  17. Johana D.

    I definitely agree with Dr. j . Not only one variable determines our necessity of consumption of calories per day. That amount of calories burned in daily activities, the number of calories naturally burned by the body, and metabolism rate are some of what should be taken into consideration. Though, Americans have become so out of shape, and as a nation we need to get back on track for the sake of our health.

  18. Baeli

    This is incredible (not in a good way). Considering that I know people who do worse than this, it is generally an insult to me that people who run food drives and try to help their community are wasting food that could be given to other countries that actually need it. I have an average of 600 calories a day (after exercise). That’s a deficit of 1300 calories daily. If I have the willpower to eat less, then so do most of the people who made the average so high.

  19. Steve

    It is funny how many people actually believe that you can eat whatever you want, however much you want, sit on your lazy butt all day and still lose weight because of some miracle diet pill. No, the only way to lose weight and keep it of is through proper diet and exercise. Of course, your average American doesn’t really want to hear that.

  20. Socal Ultra-Fit

    Ok, does this amount of calories include beverages? If so, I would have to say this is fairly close then. I have been a personal trainer and competitive endurance athlete for almost 10 years now and I consume around 4,000 calories a day most of the year and more on heavy training days. I weigh in at 165 lbs and I am 6’1″ and 35 years old. I am a little bit stronger than most endurance athletes and I eat well to keep my muscle on.

    I used to weigh 220 lbs when I was 20-23 years old and I can say I ate and drink 4,000 calories a day pretty easily. High fat foods, refined sugar food and beverages along with alcohol EQUALS high calories and weight gain!!! The numbers have been out for a while in the US, over 60% of the US is overweight and 30% are obese…You don’t get that way only eating 2,000-2,500 calories a day…

    By eating and drinking 4,000 calories a day, I went from 165 my senior year to 220 as a college junior. I train clients who do not completely change their eating habits and consume too much alcohol and they wonder why they can’t drop weight…I am an exercise junkie, but YOU MUST EAT WELL AND EAT WELL EVERYDAY TO ACHIEVE WEIGHT LOSS AND MAINTAIN PROPER WEIGHT!!!

  21. Steve

    It is very easy for people to over eat, especially if they drink 5 or more cans of soda a day, or if they eat out a lot. Two meals from a fast food restaurant would put you easily over 2000 calories. This is why people need to exercise every day if they are able.

  22. lee

    Women need approx 10-11 calories per pound a day to maintain their weight – based on that, it’s relatively easy to calculate how much we SHOULD be eating (adjust for overly active or sedentary lifestyles) and to say, “I want to weigh X lbs, (say 135) so I multiply that by 10, and I get 1350 calories a day.”

    I think a lot of people do NOT calculate their intake properly, and eat a lot more than they should. Once I started to keep track of my daily foods, and recognized what portion sizes were, it made a huge and immediate impact in my weight.

    I also know many people who drink more than their daily calories in soda alone…

  23. Steve

    You must not know many people from the 18 to 30 age group. I know people who consume nearly 1200 calories a day just in soda. Plus they eat 3 big meals a day. Then you have people like I used to be, who eat fast food 3 meals a day. I used to consume probably about 3500 to 4000 calories every day. Many young people don’t even hardly drink water, just stuff like soda, juice, and gatorade. If anything, I think this figure could be too low.

  24. Steve

    When you take into consideration things such as soda, I believe this could actually be true. I know several people that drink nearly 10 to 12 cans of pop a day. That alone is nearly the number of calories one would need, just in what people drink.

  25. Richard

    If Americans ate 3785 calories per year, as the UN data states, they would gain nearly 200 pounds a year. It’s like all the rest of the UN data – total bull.

  26. PK

    Even if you do intense workout for an hour you can burn just 150 – 300 calories.
    Recently I found out that certain dishes from high end restaurants may seen like a safe choice but would have around 1200 calories, so I do believe that Americans consume 3790 calories/day.
    There are lots of online calorie meters which also have dishes listed from restaurants like chillis, Chipotle and all.
    Calorie counting and exercising is the way to loose weight.

  27. Claire

    Josh, please edit before you post! It’s hard to take you seriously when you talk about food from “buger kind”…

    Anyway, someone said earlier a vegetarian diet is horrible. Just like to point out that this depends on how you approach it. Tofu is not bad for you (although too much soy can cause women to have estrogen overloads), and adding high-protein beans and spinach to your diet (along with other foods) to replace protein certainly can’t be a bad thing. The problem is the vegetarians who just eat junk food to avoid meat.

    Also, in response to other previous posts fighting about protein being 13% of the American diet and whether or not simply lowering percentages of other foods might be the solution, there is actually truth to that. Just because protein is only 13% of a person’s diet doesn’t mean they’re not getting enough of it. If their sugar, carb, etc intake is very high, even getting the correct grams of protein daily may look like less than it is because there are so many other calories that the percentage is driven down; but the actual amount is not driven down, so it still might be enough protein.

  28. Josh

    some of you are flat out stupid. did you know the average *meal* one meal, at mcdonalds runs well over 700 calories? what about the chili cheese freis at outback which have over 2900 calories in them? it is beyond eay to reach thi snumber throughout the day, it all depends on what your throwing down your stomach. shit a fish sandwich from buger kind has over 1000 calories. and for whoever said 2300 is more like it… the average BMR basal metabolic rate (the number of calories your body needs throughtout the day to function) is between 2000 and 2200.

    and lets not forget liquid calories… that one glass of applejuice contains over 100 calories… and thats an 8 ounce glass, not the tall boy you got sitting in your cabinent, that ones more like 300. figure it out people. i would say that 3200-3400 calories per day is easily reachable for the average american. trust my i work in nutrition and fitness, i see it all day long with hundreds of different clients.

  29. Dan

    Even if the number is inflated due to export, waste, etc. it’s outrageous. There are calories lost due to processing for sure, but people actually eat too many calories. period. Most in the form of high fructose corn syrup. And now we have a problem with not enough wheat and other grains, food prices rising worldwide, and farmers demanding to take back conservation land. What’re the obvious solutions? Grow less corn, eat less soda. If everybody in america stopped drinking soda, and we stopped burning our “food” in our cars, we could free up so much pasture/farmland to eat better food and lower prices on real food like rye bread.