Cluster analysis of what the world eats

on Mar 9, 2010
Keeping with the theme of the post below, I used a clustering algorithm to group the different countries according to what they eat. I simply played around with the number of clusters until I got something I thought resembled reality, so don't interpret this as an in-depth analysis.
  • Group 1: Lot's of coffee and offal. They don't like fish and fruits, but eat their veggies. Similar to Group 2.
  • Group 2: Lot's of calories per day, all kinds of meat, alcohol, milk, butter, potatoes and sugar. Vegetable oils are used for cooking. No beans here.
  • Group 3: Fish and rice (which coincidentally is what I had for dinner yesterday). They use coconut oil and don't like milk or cheese.
  • Group 4: They like bovine meat, fruits and sugar. They also use palm oil, and don't like veggies.
  • Group 5: Not many calories per day, lots of starchy roots, beans and pulses.
  • Group 6: Lot's of carbs (wheat and cereals). They eat their veggies and use olive oil and soybean oil.
The code is here and the data (taken from a database put together by the blog Canibais e Reis) is here.

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didi said...

This map is false.

didi said...

Greece diet and minor asia are very close.

Same thing for south european countries and north african country.

There is nothing in common between Russian food and Portugal one.

All this because of agriculture development wich is coralated to climate.

Diego said...


I don't find it surprising that European countries would cluster together, if you want to see a more fine-grained division within regions you can increase the number of clusters, or even better, use a hierarchical clustering algorithm. Here's what the map looks like with 8 clusters. As you can see Greece, Italy ans Spain form one cluster.

And yes, I'm sure the date of agricultural transition explains a big part of the variance, but agriculture reached China a couple of thousand years before Denmark and yet Danes drink lots of milk, while Chinese people don't drink much. Latitude, pastoral activities and local culture also play important roles

kirs said...

just another point:
even the 8 cluster graph lumps together India and China. but i can attest that Indians drink large quantities of milk/dairy. Chinese and even Chinese diaspora (prior to McDonalds/pizzeria type globalization) rarely drink milk ever.

Of course, now things are changing...everywhere becoming similar.

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