The average American over age 2 takes in 2,081 calories per day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This number represents the mean caloric intake of people of both genders and all ages, however. To better understand the average American's caloric intake, it's helpful to consider specific populations.
The average toddler in the United states gets slightly more than 1,500 calories per day. As children mature, boys begin to eat more, taking in 1,922 calories per day in the 6-to-11 age group, while girls that age take in about 1,812 calories. During the teen years, children acquire about half of their adult bone mass, according to a group of researchers who published a six-year study in "Journal of Bone and Mineral Research," which may increase their appetites. Adolescent boys significantly increase their caloric intake to 2,539, while teen girls increase their intake to about 1,821 calories per day.
The average woman in her 20s takes in 1,949 calories per day. This is the highest caloric intake period for females. In her 30s, the number drops to 1,831. The numbers level off somewhat between the ages of 40 and 70, with a woman's daily caloric intake decreasing from 1,794 to 1,717. After age 70, it drops significantly, to about 1,535 calories per day. On the average, women aged 20 and older take in about 1,778 calories a day.
Men take in more calories than women, but their period of highest caloric intake occurs later. Men in their 20s take in 2,626 calories a day and in their 30s, that number increases to 2,736. It remains steady throughout their 40s and begins to drop after age 50, when it decreases to 2,482. It continues to drop until they are taking in about 1,907 calories daily from age 70. The average man over age 20 gets 2,512 calories per day.
Although it seems that the average American takes in a healthy number of calories, the intake of fat is higher than it should be. The Institute of Medicine recommends that 45 to 65 percent of your calories come from carbohydrates, preferably from fruit, vegetables and whole grains, while 10 to 35 percent come from protein. Fewer than 30 percent of your calories should come from fat. According to the USDA, 51 percent of the calories in the average American's diet come from carbohydrates and16 percent come from protein. Fat constitutes 33 percent the diet, with 11 percent of the total calories coming from saturated fat.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Mean Amounts Consumed per Individual1, by Gender and Age, in the United States, 2009-2010
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Percentages1 of Energy from Protein, Carbohydrate, Fat, and Alcohol, by Gender and Age, in the United States, 2009-2010
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes - Macronutrients
- Journal of Bone and Mineral Research: A Six-Year Longitudinal Study of the Relationship of Physical Activity to Bone Mineral Accrual in Growing Children
Maia Appleby is a NASM-certified personal trainer with more than 15 years of experience in the fitness industry. Her articles have been published in a wide variety of print magazines and online publications, including the Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health, New Moon Network and Bodybuilding.com.