Thanksgiving 2012: 248 Million Turkeys, 4,500 Calories


It’s that time of year: holiday music on the radio, the Macy’s parade, midnight sales and most of all, the consumption of  $874 million worth of turkey in one evening. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is Thanksgiving time once again.

According to, the National Turkey Federation estimates that 20% of all turkeys consumed in the United States over the course of the year are eaten on Thanksgiving.

To put things into perspective, the United States produces 248 million turkeys annually. These turkeys weigh 11.7 billion pounds and are worth $4.37 billion.. 8.5% of these turkeys are exported to countries around the world. If the average turkey is one foot in length and we put all the turkeys the United States produces in one year, end-to-end, we could circle the globe not once, but twice. 

This year the American Farm Bureau Federation estimates that the Thanksgiving feast will cost a family $49.48, up 28 cents from 2011.

But Thanksgiving will cost you more than money. After snacking all day long, Dr. Cedric Bryant of the American Council on Exercise estimates that the average person gobbles up 4,500 calories on Turkey Day. Keep in mind that 3,500 calories is equal to one pound of fat. This means a 160-pound person would have to run at a steady pace for six hours, swim for seven and a half hours or walk 45 miles to burn off a 4,500-calorie Thanksgiving day binge. This is why a study in the New England Journal of Medicine states that the average person will gain one pound over the holiday, which they won’t end up losing down the road.

At the end of the turkey-day, spending time with your family, as I argued in my defense of holiday meals, trumps any weight gain or wallet loss.