It would seem that it's almost a New Years Day tradition for Americans to troop en masse to the bathroom scales and resolve universally to exercise a good deal more and eat a good deal less.
And according to some recent facts about the primary food groups, it isn't surprising why people in general are packing on the pounds.
Because we are what we eat, as they say, it's no wonder we're heavier than we were a decade or few ago. A look at per capita consumption of major food commodities tells the tale of the scale.
The most recent issue of Oregon Agri-Facts, published by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, lists 13 major food groups and about three times that many subgroups. It shows the changes in per capita consumption from 1996-2005. It also plainly illustrates the "bad" things we're eating more of and the "good" things we're eating less of.
For example, fats and oils are in the commodity group showing the greatest consumption increase, up nearly 36 percent in those nine years to 85.5 pounds per person. Within that group, salad and cooking oil consumption is up the most of all commodities, more than 66 percent. Those are largely vegetable oils, of course, but consumption of lard - rendered hog fat - is up more than 51 percent, too. Refried beans, anyone?
Meanwhile, consumption of fluid cream, which includes cream, sour cream and dip, is up 52 percent to about 13 pounds per person per year; vegetable shortening is up nearly 33 percent in the same nine-year period and cheese consumption rose 15 percent to more than 31 pound per person annually.
People are eating more poultry, fish and pork while consuming less beef, the statistics show. Lamb and mutton consumption stayed static at about 13 ounces per person per year. Chicken consumption climbed 24 percent to 60 pounds annually by 2005. Fish and shellfish servings rose 11 percent to 16 pounds per person and pork use grew 3 percent to 46.5 pounds per person.
At the same time, beef consumption dropped almost 3 percent to 62.4 pounds per person per year. Note that even with the decline, beef consumption still beat chicken by more than 2 pounds annually per person.
Joining beef on the bottom half of the list were vegetables, down .4 of 1 percent to 415.4 pounds per person annually, and fruit, down 4.6 percent to about 273 pounds per person in 2005.
Others showing a losing trend are the flour-cereal group, off 2.2 percent to 192 pounds per year. Specifically, wheat consumption in America is down 8.4 percent to 134 pounds per person in 2005.
And while milk consumption is down nearly 12 percent to 181 pounds per person per year, coffee consumption is up 9.2 percent to 9.5 pounds per year each. That's a latte.
So, for those who are serious about their New Years resolutions, the answer seems pretty simple.
Eat more of what's good for us and less of what's bad.
That shouldn't be too hard.