With levels of obesity on the up throughout much of the world, it may come as a breath of fresh air that the average per capita produce consumption rate around the globe has increased from 36% to 40% over the last half century.
The figures are according to an interactive section on National Geographic’s website called What the World Eats, which sourced data from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization Statistics Division (FAOSTAT).
China leads the world in per capita produce consumption by far with the category that consists of fruit, vegetables and starchy roots representing 56% of the Chinese average diet in weight in 2011. The vast majority of that figure is made up of vegetables.
By contrast, in 2011 produce made up 27% of the average diet in the U.S., 33% in the U.K., 25% in Mexico, and just 12% in Somalia.
Another interesting finding is that Cuba leads the world in fruit consumption, with the segment making up 19% of the average diet. National Geographic attributed this high figure to the collapse of Cuba’s key trading partner, the Soviet Union, in 1991, which led to the island country relying more on local farming.
While produce now represents almost half of the average Cuban diet, in 1970 it was a mere 18%.
The U.K. also has a relatively high per-capita fruit consumption for the more developed countries on the list, coming in at 13%, compared to Germany at 8%.
Fruit consumption is also notably high in Brazil (17%), Mexico (15%) and Saudi Arabia (15%), while the category constitutes about a tenth of average diets in Australia, the U.S, Hong Kong, Spain, Japan, Kuwait and Argentina.
Some interesting findings can also be found when comparing data on produce consumption over the last 50 years.
For one, the proportion of produce in the average Spanish diet has dropped by a 15 percentage points to 30%, while Japan has also declined by nearly as much.
In addition, the U.S. has stayed fairly consistent over the five decades, with fruits, vegetables and starchy roots increasing slightly from 26% to 27% of the average diet.
Australia has seen an encouraging boost from 21% to 26%, while India has gone up from 23% half a century ago to 34%.
In terms of the world average, fruit consumption has increased from making up 8% of diets to 11% in 2011, while vegetables have increased by half to 20%.
The graphic also looked at meat consumption, which showed that while Argentina consumes the most beef by far, Hong Kong has a significantly higher total meat consumption level than anywhere else.