1. More meals are consumed outside the home. When you do not make the food, you are less likely to know what is in the food. Sadly, far fewer meals are consumed as a family in the last decade. There has been a loss of families gathering for a traditional meal around the table. The trend in restaurant meals is that they are higher in calories and larger than normal portion sizes.
2. Marketing is notoriously deceptive in regards to food. A Caesar chicken salad may be the most caloric item on the menu. Check out David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding's book series Eat This, Not That for some interesting reading.
3. Knowledge of nutritional requirements is relatively low. Many people don't know how many calories they require to maintain their body weight and are terrible estimators on just how many calories are in the food they eat. Many of us would not buy an item in the store without knowing the price, but we frequently have no idea how many calories are it. For example, one slice of cheesecake at a well-known restaurant can range from 650-1000 calories (the equivalent of 6-10 miles of walking for 150 lb person) or that the #1 meal deal at a notable fast food restaurant is 1300 calories (the equivalent of walking a half marathon).
4. Haphazard food consumption leads to overconsumption. If people wait until they are hungry to eat, the ability to make a wise food choice declines greatly. Skipping breakfast is highly correlated with obesity as by the time people get the chance to eat, they are overly hungry and don't make wise choices.
5. High calorie drinks significantly increase calorie intake. Having one Frappuccino per day may be enough to add one pound per week. A new drink with an appealing berry name from a local dount shop has over 900 calories!
To make changes for yourself and your family consider the following. Limit eating out to one to two times per month, limit all chain and fast food restaurants, eat breakfast every day, drink only non-calorie drinks, and become knowledgeable of calories by reading labels and recording your food intake on free websites like www.calorieking.com or www.sparkpeople.com.