This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on July 23, 2014.
If you’ve gobbled a cookie, cake, doughnut or pastry at some point during the day, you’ve eaten the top source of calories for the average American – both young and old – on any given day.
These treats make up more than 6 percent of the calories the average kid or adult eats daily, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That makes these sweets, dubbed “grain-based desserts,” the calorie leaders for both kids, ages 2-18, and adults, ages 19 and over.
The conclusion was reached by analyzing Americans’ self-reported daily diets and calculating the calories in an average portion of 97 food categories.
Rounding out the top five for adults are bagels and breads (134 calories), chicken and mixed chicken dishes (123 calories), soda and sports drinks (112 calories), and alcoholic beverages (106 calories). Combined, soda and alcohol made up about 10 percent of the average adult’s daily calories.
For kids, the next four on the list features pizza (136 calories), soda and sports drinks (118 calories), bagels and bread (114 calories), and chicken and mixed chicken dishes (113 calories). Although chicken is usually considered a lean source of protein, the USDA points out it’s often served breaded or fried, or in casseroles and salads with cream sauces or dressings, and those additions come with calories.