I always like to see which foods contribute the most sugar or saturated fat or sodium because that helps shed light on where we can make changes to have the greatest impact.
The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 have quite a few of these informative charts. One of my favorites is the figure in Chapter 2 on page 12 that shows the top 25 sources of calories for Americans. It might surprise you.
Take a look for yourself but here are the top 20 sources of calories:
Correlated with most weight gained: 1) potato chips. Part of #11 on this list. I suspect "mindless snacking" is both at the root of these being high on the calories list and the association with weight gain.
2) potatoes. Partially represented by #17 on this list. From the earlier report, I doubt it is the potatoes per se, but what is added to them/how they are prepared.
3) sugar-sweetened beverages. #4 on this list. No surprise.
4) unprocessed red meats. #9, #12 and ?#16 on this list. Again, I don't think it's the food that is the issue, but as this list confirms, the quantity.
5) processed meats. Not obviously on this list, but probably in #9, #12, #16, and probably #3.
Interesting that "grain based deserts" (cakes, cookies, donuts, ....) are NOT on that list.
Correlated with LEAST weight gained: 5) vegetables. Not on this list. No surprise for a low calorie item.
4) whole grains. Probably partially buried in this list as #2, #7, #8, #15. But we know the majority of each of those are non-whole grain options.
3) fruits. Not on this list. No surprise.
2) nuts. #19 on this list.
1) yogurt. Probably not on this list unless included in #13.
"How does chicken carry more calories than red meat?"
Note, that's not what the list above says. The list is of "which foods provide the most calories in the diet." In total, not per serving. Americans eat chicken more often than they eat red meat. Consequently, the total calories in the diet from chicken is higher than the less frequently consumed red meat.
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