Americans Eat More Cheese Than Ever Before

By Lisa Raffensperger | September 25, 2013 12:35 pm

cheese cubes

Since 1970 the amount of cheese consumed per person in this great nation has tripled. That’s according to a report card (pdf) released this week by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The overall dairy numbers paint a not-terrible picture in terms of fat content, with Americans eating less full-fat ice cream and more low-fat yogurt. But the rise in cheese consumption—from 8 pounds per person per year in 1970 to 23 pounds in 2010—brings the dairy grade down to a C-. (The grades are subjective, but are meant to show how our present eating habits stack up to an ideal diet.)

cheese consumption graph

Courtesy of Center for Science in the Public Interest

The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, an industry group, treats the rise in cheese-eating cheerfully. They attribute it, in part, to the fact that we’re eating out more and, surprise surprise, restaurants love putting cheese in and on our food.

But a New York Times article from 2010 offers a more startling analysis: the U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping restaurants put more cheesy foods on their menus even as other parts of the agency encourage Americans to eat fewer saturated fats.

The quasi-governmental Dairy Management agency was established to boost milk, and cheese, consumption, the Times reports:

Urged on by government warnings about saturated fat, Americans have been moving toward low-fat milk for decades, leaving a surplus of whole milk and milk fat. Yet the government, through Dairy Management, is engaged in an effort to find ways to get dairy back into Americans’ diets, primarily through cheese…

In a series of confidential agreements approved by agriculture secretaries in both the Bush and Obama administrations, Dairy Management has worked with restaurants to expand their menus with cheese-laden products.

Those restaurants, according to Dairy Management’s website, include McDonald’s, Domino’s and Taco Bell. Another reason, then, to resist the Cheesy Gordita Crunch: it has a slightly nefarious aftertaste.

Via The Atlantic

Top image by George Ruiz via Flickr

CATEGORIZED UNDER: select
MORE ABOUT: nutrition
  • Buddy199

    Well, we are the number one emitter of greenhouse gas.

    • abinico

      And what does this have to do with cheese? Cow farts maybe?

  • abinico

    There is nothing wrong with saturated fats; there is nothing wrong with cholesterol. These two are vital nutrients especially for a healthy brain. What is really bad is hydrogenated and trans fats – avoid completely. And this is yet another poorly written article that does not mention the important facts.

    • Joan

      agreed. Articles such as this one help perpetuate many misconceptions.

      • hirschmead321

        My Uncle Anthony just got Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe just by part time work from a computer… read the article w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Nicole Wiese

    I’m responsible for at least half of that cheese consumption. Cheese and fat don’t make you fat, sugar and excess carbs do. Please check the science next time.

  • Olga Starcher

    I’ll probably fall around 23 lbs/year in my cheese consumption. I’m not overly concerned though. I do not eat butter, I do not cook with oil, I do not eat bacon, I do not eat meat that is less than 93% lean (98% usually), I eat red meat no more than once or twice a week. The milk I buy is fat-free. The dressings I buy are reduced-fat. Even with the increase in cheese intake, I’m still willing to bet that I consume less fat in a day than prior generations (you know, the people who cooked their food in animal lard).

    • http://jaredcamarata.com/ Jared C

      Prior generations… You know, the people that had much better health than we currently do in America. :)

      • Olga Starcher

        Some. Others not so much. My grandparents’ generation is having a hell of a time with diabetes and heart disease (my grandparents included). My great-grandma had recently “discovered” that half a stick of butter in mashed potatoes was contributing greatly to her heartburn. Who’d have guessed!

        Were older generations thinner? YES! Most traditional diets and comfort foods are based on farming lifestyle. If we worked physically even half as much as our grandparents and great-grandparents did, we could eat hearty helpings of bacon too.

        But the bottom line is that making a choice to get your daily fat intake from cheese is not necessarily an indicator of how you eat as a whole. My piece of cheese on grilled chicken sandwich I make at home will do me far less harm than any “healthy” salad at a fast food joint. It’s also far better for me than sweetened Greek yogurt (some with whopping 230 calories per sadly-skimpy cup).

        • http://jaredcamarata.com/ Jared C

          Your keyword is “is”. We are all currently having problems with heart disease and diabetes, yes.. but in the past, those numbers were minuscule. Over the past 100 (but mostly the past 30) years we have made a transition away from saturated fats towards vegetable oils (polyunsaturated). This move, I feel, is a significant factor to blame in the current health crisis. We’ll see how the science pans out, but more and more it is supporting the notion that saturated fat is not harmful. (And also extremely beneficial towards optimal human health.)

  • jobdevaa

    McDonald’s, Domino’s and Taco Bell.are restaurants? Maybe on another planet
    Fat doesn’t cause strokes and heart attacks Cholesterol kills more people than fat. All the fast food stores brag about their healthy meals
    but none dares mention cholesterol, sodium or sugar. Of course all three in moderate amounts is fine but the foods served by fast food stores is laden with all three. Most processed food is. That’s why their products taste so good. H.L. Mencken had it right “No man went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people”

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