Due to a rapid increase in human population and development of neighborhood economy over the last few decades, nitrogen (N) and other nutrient inputs in Lake Dianchi drainage basin have increased dramatically, changing the lake's trophic classification from oligotrophic to eutrophic. Although human activities are considered as main causes for the degradation of water quality in the lake, a numerical analysis of the share of the effect of different anthropogenic factors is still largely unexplored. We use the net anthropogenic N input (NANI) method to estimate human-induced N inputs to the drainage basin from 1980 to 2010, which covers the period of dramatic socioeconomic and environmental changes. For the last three decades, NANI increased linearly by a factor of three, from 4700 kg km(-2)year(-1) in 1980 to 12,600 kg km(-2)year(-1) in 2010. The main reason for the rise of NANI was due to fertilizer N application as well as human food and animal feed imports. From the perspective of direct effects of food consumption on N inputs, contributions of drivers were estimated in terms of human population and human diet using the Logarithmic Mean Divisia Index (LMDI) factor decomposition method. Although human population density is highly correlated to NANI with a linear correlation coefficient of 0.999, human diet rather than human population is found to be the single largest driver of NANI change, accounting for 47% of total alteration, which illustrates that the role of population density in the change of NANI may be overestimated through simple relational analysis. The strong linear relationships (p<0.01) between NANI and total N concentrations in the lakes over time may indicate that N level in the lake is able to respond significantly to N inputs to the drainage basin.