(Updated: 09 June 2021) How does the composition of people's daily diets vary across countries? Ideally, food intake should be balanced, which requires access to fresh vegetables and fruits, grains, proteins (meats and beans), dairy products, and healthy oils while minimizing or reducing consumption of alcohol, salt, and sugar. For a variety of reasons, income being paramount, disparities in access to quality food undermine the average daily diets of millions of people worldwide.

  • A comparison of data on the consumption of various food products per capita and gross national income per capita shows that people in high-income countries consume more vegetable oils, dairy products, and meat than people in lower income countries. As income per capita decreases, consumption of cereals accounts for a bigger share of the average person's daily diet.
  • People living at the extreme poverty level tend to consume a higher volume of starchy roots and fruits, which replace cereals, meat, vegetable oils and sugar in daily diet compared to those living in high-income countries. Pulses (such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas) also represent an increased share of daily diet in many poorer countries.
  • Wealthier populations also eat a larger amount of food. For instance, the average American has an annual income* of $63,064 and consumes around 953 kg (nearly 2,000 lbs.) of food per year; in contrast, the average Nigerian has an annual income of $5,279 and eats approximately 621 kg of food per year (1370 lbs.).

Note: the list of countries in the first chart below includes: 20 largest economies by GDP (PPP); 20 most populous countries; select representative countries added to fill gaps in per capita income scale.

*2018 GDP per capita, current purchasing power parity (PPP).

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