US Disease Cases

Part
01
of four
Part
01

Cancer Cases Per Decade

Thank you for your question on liver cancer, pancreas cancer and total cancer cases. We extensively researched the last 50 years to determine the number of cancer numbers in each category. Below is a detailed description of how we determined each number and the final numbers can be found in the spreadsheet here.

1960-1970

While researching to determine the total number of cancer cases per decade some findings were inconclusive for the years between 1960-1970. The government did not record new cancer cases until 1973 when information from 5 US states was available. However, we were able to find the actual and estimated death total from cancer in general, lung cancer in this time period. Information for pancreas cancer was not found. The total cancer estimates for this time period were 400,000 cases, and for lung cancer, about 95,000 cases. The source for this information can be found here. Below is how we figured out the numbers for each section in the spreadsheet.

Methodology

In order to conclude the number of cancer cases requested for all the decades between 1970 and the present we first found the average “cancer incidences rate per 100,000 population” for each decade. We did this by adding each annual cancer total in the specific decade together and dividing that number by 10. We repeated this process for total cancer, liver cancer and pancreas cancer.

After, to find the total number of people with the specific type of cancers listed we divided the "US Census Bureau’s Population" for that decade by 100,000. We then took this number and multiplied it by the “average rate per 100,000” that we concluded in the first section. We repeated this process for the total number of cancer cases, liver cancer cases and pancreas cancer cases.
Finally, to find the total number of cancer cases in each decade we found the number of cases each year in each decade and multiplied this number by 10. Our findings are listed in the spreadsheet provided.

Conclusion

Although there was no concrete information between the years of 1960 and 1970 we were able to find the estimated death rates of cancer in those years. From the 70s to the present we were able to calculate for each category and decade to determine each figure.
Part
02
of four
Part
02

Heart Disease/Diabetes/Alzheimer's Cases Per Decade

I have completed the spreadsheet provided with data for the number of diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer's cases in the last 50 years in the US. This shows that the prevalence of diabetes has been steadily rising over this period. As data for heart disease cases were not available for prior to a decade ago, I triangulated figures using the decrease in deaths from heart disease as the basis. As Alzheimer's only became widely studied in the 1970s, there was no data available for the period prior to the 1980s.

DIABETES

The annual data for prevalence of diabetes was available from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website, based on cases diagnosed. To find the number of cases per decade, I took an average of the annual cases for each decade.

HEART DISEASE

I was able to find data for prevalence of heart disease for years between 1999 and 2014 on the CDC website as a percentage of US adults, collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Other data from different CDC surveys covered a shorter period, hence the NHANES data set was selected. A deep search found no statistics on the number of cases of heart disease for the period prior to this—research and available data all focus on the number of deaths caused by heart disease rather than the number of cases only. However, as it seems likely that the change in the number of deaths mirrors the change in the number of cases, I used heart disease mortality data and assumed the same percentage change between decades also applied to the change in the number of heart disease cases. The mortality data used to calculate the heart disease estimates are as follows:

492.7 per 100,000 in the 1960s (1970 figure used)
412.1 per 100,000 in the 1970s (1980 figure used)
321.8 per 100,000 in the 1980s (1990 figure used)
278.92 per 100,000 in the 1990s (average of 1990s annual mortality figures)
220.29 per 100,000 in the 2000s (average of 2000s annual mortality figures)

The above mortality data from Statista is consistent with this PRB report, which is based on CDC data. The calculation of each estimate for the four decades between 1960 to 1999 can be seen in relevant the spreadsheet cell.

ALZHEIMER'S

There was limited data from official sources on the prevalence of Alzheimer's or dementia. Available statistics were in relation to the number of deaths rather than cases. I was able to find data for North America for the past two decades (2015 and 2010) from global reports from the organization Alzheimer's Disease International. For the period prior to that, a deep search found only an academic report that used surveys of smaller areas in order to triangulate a nationwide estimate for 1980 (2.88 million) and 1990 (estimated 3.1 million based on graph). There was no data that predated this available online, which is likely due to Alzheimer's only becoming more recognized and researched in the 1970s. It was therefore not possible to triangulate for earlier decades.

CONCLUSION

For the prevalence of diabetes and heart disease in the US from 1960 onward, and for Alzheimer's from 1980 onward, please refer to the attached spreadsheet.
Part
03
of four
Part
03

Increase in Consumption Part 1

Your requested information regarding US consumption data for sugar, fast food and white flour is prepared for you in rows 2-4 in the "Increase in Consumption" tab of the attached spreadsheet.

Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.

SUGAR

To determine the US consumption of sugar per decade between 1960 and 2017, I used the latest available data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). While the USDA report gave consumption data for different kinds of sweeteners, I understood your request to mean the commodity sugar in general. For this reason, I chose to use the 'refined sugar' category to be the most appropriate instead of glucose, dextrose syrup, honey, and other syrups for my research.
Below are the consumption data for sugar in the US from 1960 to 2016.

473.9 million pounds (2010-2016)
631 million pounds (2000-2009)
647 million pounds (1990-1999)
683.7 million pounds (1980-1989)
960.2 million pounds (1970-1979)
396 million pounds (1966-1969)

WHITE FLOUR

I did not find any dedicated resource from USDA or other sources for exclusive consumption of white flour in the US. Therefore, I used data for wheat flour consumption from 2 sources. One was the USDA report 'Profiling Food Consumption in America' published in 2002 (the most recent and only version available), which provided information for wheat flour consumption from 1950 to 2000. I then searched for a resource that gave consumption data for the remaining years for the same product using the same unit of measurement (average pounds per capita). I determined that Statista's compiled information (2010-2015) satisfies these criteria for the most years available.

Below are the consumption data for wheat flour in the US from 1960 to 2015.

134.2 total lbs per capita (2010-2015)
137 average lbs per capita (2000-2009)
141.8 average lbs per capita (1990-1999)
122.8 average lbs per capita (1980-1989)
113.6 average lbs per capita (1970-1979)
114.4 average lbs per capita (1960-1969)

FAST FOOD

After searching extensively, we were unable to find data on fast food consumption specifically over the last 50 years, so we have provided as much historical data as possible that could share some light on fast food consumption historically.

Americans spent $6 billion on fast foods in 1970 and $110 billion dollars in 2000. In 2002, fast food restaurants generated a total of $159.2 billion in revenue. In 2010, the total revenue was $190.5 billion and this increased to $209 billion in 2017. It is projected that revenue for fast food brands will increase to $223.2 billion in 2020.

USDA provided consumption data for food-away-from-home including fast food in the US. While there were several reports available regarding different food service firms such as full service restaurants, fast food establishments, hotel, bars, etc., I found none that gave the exclusive consumption data for fast food per decade.

The 2004 USDA report "The Demand for Food Away From Home Full-Service or Fast Food?" gives the fast food sales in the US from 1980 to 2005 (Fig.2, p.2). However, there was no way to convert the line graph data into accurate consumption data percentage per decade for encoding in the spreadsheet.

The 2012 USDA report "The Demand for Disaggregated Food-Away-From-Home and Food-at-Home Products in the United States" also gives the expenditure data for limited service and full service food-away-from-home from 1998 to 2010 (Fig.1, p.7). However, similar to the earlier report, converting the line graph data into accurate consumption data percentage per decade was impossible.

Therefore, I used the latest available and usable data set from the USDA detailing consumption data for food-away-from-home from the 1960s to the latest available year, which is 2014. I chose to use this report to preserve the integrity of my findings since the data set was requested per decade instead of per year.

I also chose to use the "Food Away From Home"category in general as USDA defined these as food purchased outside the home including those provided to employees. This category excluded food paid for by the government and business such as school donations, prison meals, and expense account meals. However, this category might include full service restaurants along with fast food establishments. The exact amount of consumption in this category that is due to fast food alone is unclear, however, a Gallup survey of food-away-from-home consumers found that only about 24% of such consumers visit fast food.

Below are the annual average shares of food-away-from-home consumption in US household food expenditures from the 1960s to 2014:

21.4% share of household food expenditures (2010-2014)
41.1% share of household food expenditures (2000-2009)
37.9% share of household food expenditures (1990-1999)
34.9% share of household food expenditures (1980-1989)
28.3% share of household food expenditures (1970-1979)
22.47% share of household food expenditures (1960-1969)

Statista also has data on the growth of fast food restaurants between 2004 and 2018 which could throw some light on fast food consumption in the US, but the data is behind a paywall. From what is publicly available, there were about 218,000 fast food units in 2007. The number further increased to 232,611 units in 2013 and is expected to reach 247,191 by 2018.

CONCLUSION

To wrap it up, your requested information regarding US consumption data for sugar, fast food and white flour is prepared for you in rows 2-4 in the "Increase in Consumption" tab of the attached spreadsheet.
Part
04
of four
Part
04

Increase in Consumption Part 2

Overview

Soda, processed food and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) have been ever present components of the American diet for many years. Over the decades, various organizations including the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), have collected data on the consumption of these dietary constituents in order to better understand the modern American diet. The information has been compiled on the "increase in Consumption" tab of the attached spreadsheet. Below, I write further details about the relevant findings of these research.

Consumption Data for Soda

Consumption data for soda is not available for the 1960s and 1970s but, starting 1987, information has been available and we can see from the research that consumption general consumption of soda was at around 43 gallons per capita per year. This consumption peaked in the late 1990s with consumption in 1998 at around 54 gallons per capita per year. In 2015, the last year for which data was collected in this research, we see consumption at an all-time low of less than 41 gallons per capita per year.

According to the report, consumption of soda falls within the following ranges within the decades:
2010-2017: 41-42 gallons per capita per year (Data available only up to 2015)
2000-2009: 48-52 gallons per capita per year
1990-1999: 47-53 gallons per capita per year
1980-1989: 43-47 gallons per capita per year (Data available only for 1987-1989)
1970-1979: Data Not Available
1960-1960: Data Not Available

Consumption Data for Processed Food

Information on the consumption of processed food was not directly available, per our research. As such, we had to make assumptions about this data. Generally, research reports mostly referenced the percentage of meals which were consumed away from home as an indicator of the percentage of processed meals consumed by Americans.
According to a USDA report, more and more Americans are consuming their food away from home. In 2015, the latest year included in the report, food consumed away from home comprised 50.1% of all meals.

The report further details the average decade-by-decade consumption of processed food in the US:
2010-2017: 49.2% of all meals (average for years within the decade, average only includes data up to 2014) 2000-2009: 47.6% of all meals (average for years within the decade)
1990-1999: 44.6% of all meals (average for years within the decade)
1980-1989: 41.3% of all meals (average for years within the decade)
1970-1979: 33.4% of all meals (average for years within the decade)
1960-1960: 29.8% of all meals (average for years within the decade)

Consumption Data for HFCS

Data on the consumption of HFCS was available from the USDA. Their reports cover the years spanning from 1970-2016. The report tells us that, in the 1970s, when the data was started being collected, Americans only consumed 0.4 grams per capita per day of HFCS. However, this consumption steadily increased over the decades peaking at 63.8 grams per capita per day in the year 1999. Nevertheless, this has been steadily declining since and consumption of HFCS is now a 41.4 grams per capita per day comparable to mid-1980s levels.

Here are the decade by decade averages of HFCS consumption according to the report:
2010-2017: 44.6 grams per capita per day (average for years within the decade) 2000-2009: 58.2 grams per capita per day (average for years within the decade)
1990-1999: 56.4 grams per capita per day (average for years within the decade)
1980-1989: 37.3 grams per capita per day (average for years within the decade)
1970-1979: 5.5 grams per capita per day (average for years within the decade)
1960-1960: Data Not Available

Conclusion

Overall, consumption of soda, processed food, and high fructose corn syrup has been varied throughout the years. We are seeing a trend that tells us that there are many things wrong with the modern diet with more and more people preferring to eat fast and convenient foods away from home.

Sources
Sources