Watch How Your Diet Has Changed Over the Past 40 Years

Ever wondered how the food you eat has changed over time? This visualization plots the changing eating habits of the US between 1970 and 2013, allowing you to marvel at what you now put into your mouth that you didn’t a decade or two ago.


The interactive visualization was created by Nathan Yau from Flowing Data using information from the United States Department of Agriculture. It’s inspired by a more detailed version made from UK data by the Open Data Institute. (Incidentally, that visualization is so detailed that you can see a huge spike in things like sandwich eating when Pret a Manger opened its doors. Not necessarily the cause of the rise, but it could be.)

This one, however, charts good ol’ US consumption, though with less granularity. Notice, for instance, the gradual ascent of American cheese and chicken to take top spots as meat and dairy products of choice. Perhaps unexpectedly, Yau also points out that dark green vegetables—like spinach and kale—have also fared particularly well in the last 20 years.

One quirk is that cooking oil appears to become hugely popular in 2000, but that’s actually because of a change in the way the data was reported, says Yau, rather than anything to do with the population swapping out Cola for liquid fat. Probably.

[Flowing Data]

Contributing Editor at Gizmodo. An ex-engineer writing about science and technology.


Anyone else trying to figure out where that apostrophe in the title came from? #grammarpolice #butseriously