CHART OF THE DAY: The Moment When American Calorie Consumption Went Ballistic

From a new Credit Suisse study “on the dietary impact of ‘sugar and sweeteners’ and their role in the ongoing health debate surrounding obesity and diabetes” comes this chart, which shows that calorie consumption really took off in America in the early 1980s.

In 1981, calorie consumption in the U.S. averaged 3200 per day.

In 2012, that number was 3900 per day.

According to the USDA’s Agriculture Fact Book, “Some of the observed increase in caloric intake may be associated with the increase in eating out. Data from USDA’s food intake surveys show that the food-away-from-home sector provided 32 per cent of total food energy consumption in 1994-96, up from 18 per cent in 1977-78. The data also suggest that, when eating out, people either eat more or eat higher calorie foods — or both — and that this tendency appears to be increasing.”

The USDA continues: “A variety of factors are responsible for the changes in U.S. consumption patterns in the last 50 years, including changes in relative prices, increases in real (adjusted for inflation) disposable income, and more food assistance for the poor. New products, particularly more convenient ones, also contribute to shifts in consumption, along with more imports, growth in the away-from-home food market, expanded advertising programs, and increases in nutrient-enrichment standards and food fortification. Sociodemographic trends also driving changes in food choices include smaller households, more two-earner households, more single-parent households, a taller population, an ageing population, and increased ethnic diversity.”

And as for the results of the Credit Suisse study: “While the implications of the global obesity epidemic have been well analysed, the specific role sugar plays merits closer examination. Public and legal discussion of over-consumption has been gathering momentum. We expect this to build with regulatory and fiscal intervention an ever-growing risk. We believe the end result will be a structural decline in sugar consumption and ongoing risk for the price of the commodity.”

Who wins, and who loses?

“We see a specific negative risk for beverage and bottling stocks such as Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper, and Femsa,” says the Credit Suisse study. “Food manufacturers would be exposed to a drop in sugar demand (Tate, Mondelez, Bimbo Suedzucker, Cosan, AB Foods, Wilmar). Stocks likely be relative beneficiaries from a decline in sugar consumption include the sweeteners space and food companies with broad portfolios (PureCircle, Senomyx, Danone and Nestle). If this overall theme plays out, there might ultimately be a question over the market size for diabetes drugs where the likes of Novo and Eli Lilly stand out.”

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