The Standard American Diet in Pictures and Numbers


You might have heard the sound bite: if everyone ate like Americans, we’d need two planets. But even if one’s primary goal isn’t going green, for the sake of our health we should all pay closer attention to food. For example, I had no idea that the average American eats more than half of their meals at fast food restaurants. With over 85,000 fast food restaurants in the U.S., it’s no wonder.

Average calorie consumption nationally: 3770 calories per day

Average calorie consumption globally: 2833 calories per day

Percentage of overweight and obese children nationally: 33%

Percentage of overweight and obese children globally: 12%

Number of annual drug prescriptions for the average American: 12

Average annual sodium intake: 4500 mg per day

Average annual trans fat intake: 5.8 grams per day

Average annual sugar intake: 142 pounds per year

Percentage of fast food meals as part of diet for the average American: 55%

What are we eating, anyway? While the following information is not comprehensive, it does offer an accurate snapshot of typical fast food fare.

Popular fast food items, with calorie and fat information:


-Carl’s Junior The Double Six-Dollar Burger

1,522 calories

986 of those calories from fat (That’s over 500% your recommend daily calories-from-fat intake!)

Men’s Health ranked this as one of the top 20 worst foods in America.


- Burger King’s Triple Whopper with Cheese

1,230 calories

82 grams of fat (126% of what’s recommended in a day.)


- KFC Mashed Potato Bowl with Gravy

A heaping bowl of mashed potatoes topped with chunks of fried chicken, corn, shredded cheese and gravy. It really has a little bit of everything, including 720 calories and 2,390 milligrams of sodium.


- McDonald’s Deluxe Breakfast

1,220 calories (half of those from fat) and 17 grams of saturated fat.


- Sonic SuperSonic Cheeseburger

929 calories

19 grams of saturated fat + exceeds daily limit for unappetizing appearance.

SuperSonic Onion Rings on the side…what’s a little side?

706 calories


- Wendy’s Southwest Taco Salad

It’s a salad, it’s got to be healthy, right? This salad has as much fat (41 grams) and calories (700) as their Classic Double with Cheese.

Most fast food places now list menus and nutrition guides on their websites, but to make your quest for health even easier, visit Calorie Lab‘s one-stop shop for restaurant nutrition guides. Better yet, make your own lunches in advance and avoid these unhealthy foods.

Top image: Pink Sherbet

Food images:

Bill Binns, imnick, drunkasaurusrex,, tcob, foodhistory