Currently people in the United States eat, on the average, 1,431 pounds of food per year, 35 pounds more than in 1980. This increase is, at least in part, because people between the ages of 15 and 64 have accounted for an increasing share of the population.
Which of the following can be properly inferred from the passage above?
(A) More than half of the current population of the United States is between the ages of 15 and 64.
(B) The population has risen since 1980.
(C) Children below the age of 15 require, on the average, more food than do people over the age of 64.
(D) Before 1980, children below the age of 15 outnumbered people between the age of 15 and 64.
(E) Individuals between the ages of 15 and 64 consume, on the average, more food than do those younger or older.
The author attributes the increase in the average per-capita consumption of food in US during the last decade partly to the fact that the proportion of people in the age group 15 to 64 to the total population has increased during this period.
The obvious inference from this conclusion is that people in the age group 15 to 64 consume relatively more food per capita than people in other age groups. So, (E) is the answer.
What the given passage implies is that the proportion of people in the age group 15 to 64 is greater now than it was in 1980. By stating that this proportion is more than 50%, (A) extends the scope of the given statement beyond what is immediately implied by it, and is wrong.
If the given narration had said that the total consumption of food by people in the United States had increased since 1980, an inference could the that the population had risen since that year. But what the narration says is that the per capita consumption of food has increased by 30%. This increase would have been possible even if the population had decreased. Therefore, (B) is not a necessary inference from the given information.
The given narration combines those below 15 and those above 64 as a single group. Choices (C) and (D), which make distinctions between them, extend the scope of the given narration beyond its immediate implication, and are not necessary inferences from it.
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