The changing American diet

What story does it tell?

This visualisation shows the annual average consumption per person, of various foods over the period of forty-three years.

How does it tell it?

It tells this story by showing six columned graphs,  further divided into what is assumed to be the highest ranked food of that group. Each graph changes its value according to the year and some food groups change position according to popularity.

Does it allow for different levels of interrogation that can be seen or used on the part of the reader? eg can they drill down to discover more detail?

Yes. Readers can interrogate the reasons for consumption popularity, eg. specific foods in season.

Are you able to create multiple stories from it? If so what are they?

  • Potatoes remained the most consumed vegetable during this forty-three year period study.
  • Cooking oil also kept its position throughout the period.
  • Beef, pork and chicken were fluctuating in popularity. Beef was in first place for twenty-five years. During this time, pork and chicken were mounting on each other. From 2006 to 2013, chicken reigned supreme.

What can you say about the visual design- layout, colour, typography, visualisation style?

The colours used to differentiate each food group are bright and well chosen. The speed selection of pause, slow, medium and fast located on the top right corner, is an important feature if a reader decides to analyse, compare and record the consumption to result an interesting observation.

The layout is questionable; at first glance, the reader doesn’t know where to look because the graphs and their position move quickly, until ispeed selection is noticed. The graphs are closely spaced; this may also cause some confusion. Typography is well chosen and the inclusion of the food group’s unit of measurement reflects the serving units per person.

What improvements would you suggest?

  • Enlarging the graphs with sufficient spacing between each.
  • Maybe also stating the reason why certain food groups become popular. eg food in season
  • Using a more legible typeface.

Where does the data came from, and comment on it’s source.

The data is sourced from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Availability Data System. It is a reliable source of information as they are responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, agriculture, forestry, and food.

Nathan Yau retrieved this information and visually presented the data. This allows readers to view it in an interactive.