The average American consumes almost 4,000 calories every day  and counting! That’s anywhere from 1500 to 2500 more calories than the average man or woman really needs  (children and athletes have different needs).
Translation: 3500 calories is equivalent to one pound. If you’re an “average American”, you could be eating anywhere from 12 to 15 excess pounds every month, adding fat to your body, increasing the pressure on your heart, and stressing your organs (not to mention the environmental impact of all this gluttony).
But why are we eating so much?
I decided to see what it would be like to eat the way the average American supposedly eats.
Breakfast: How about McDonald’s? That’s a typical choice for millions of Americans every day.
To be an average American, you need to eat at least 700 calories and up to 1300 calories at each setting. McDonald’s  can help you with that. Another tip: it helps to drink your calories, so remember to wash it all down with a big slosh of soda or juice! Or a nice venti mocha  will do the trick.
Lunch: I know Burger King is bad. I’ll go for Subway. Subway is fresh, so I’m sure whatever I eat there is going to be good, right?
Well, maybe if you get a 6″ whole-grain sandwich  with vegetables or a salad. But according to Subway, the most popular Subway item in the world is the toasted steak and cheese sandwich . This will give you a very generous 400 calories per 6″ section. Don’t forget the chips and soda (an extra 300 calories!), and you’re easily on your way to 4,000 calories today! It’s nice that convenience chains are offering slightly more healthy options these days, but it’s still disingenuous counter-marketing to offer it along side the regular high-calorie fare. Eat fresh, indeed.
Dinner: Pizza and burgers are beloved American foods. Sign me up!
Carl’s Jr. says there’s only one thing that can “slay the hunger of a young guy on the move”. Hey, that’s me! I can even get their burger for breakfast. But wait, am I really that starving that I need to be slaying my stomach? The six-dollar burger  with a large Coke and a side of fries will round out my day with an additional 1,200 calories (give or take a few).
(Honestly, I’ve always thought it’s sort of sad that the most famous American foods – pie, burgers, pizza, hot dogs, French fries – are all junk foods. The French get cheese, wine and sauces, and Asia’s got vegetables down cold, but when it comes to cuisines of the world, we can sure be proud of our corn, salt, sugar and trans fat, all right.)
I thought it would be a little bit of a challenge to eat 4,000 calories, but thanks to the vast majority of what’s available at every restaurant these days, it’s actually pretty hard not to consume twice as many calories as you need – and that’s the whole problem. It shouldn’t require a degree in nutrition or hours of online research to know what’s reasonable to eat and what isn’t. Stopping in at Subway to eat lunch shouldn’t be an obesity challenge.
Of course, what really helps is all that soda! We each drink approximately 50 gallons of soda every year . We eat twice as many calories daily as we need by some estimates, and about 1,000 excess calories a day by more conservative estimates  (seems a little more accurate to me, but then again…) Whether we’re overeating a lot or overeating a lot, it’s not healthy and it’s no wonder the majority of Americans are overweight .
That’s why I’m giving this month’s Impossible Calorie Award  to the Standard American Diet!
Tomorrow Mark will be bringing you the second installment of his new syndicated column, Primal Health , which covers fitness, diet and nutrition issues from a biology buff’s evolutionary perspective. And Sara will be dragging the Fuming Fuji kicking and screaming into yet another review of sneaky marketers’ attempts to toxify the seedlings . (Good luck with that, Sara.) I’ll be back Thursday with another round of 3 More (Sorta) Healthy Fast Foods . Stick around for the daily news bites!
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[tags] counter-marketing, restaurant portion sizes, standard American diet, average American diet, french fries, portions, calories, fast food, soda, most popular foods [/tags]