Increasingly large food portions help drive obesity epidemic

February 5, 2002 in Healthy Eating, Weight Management

Increasingly large food portions help drive obesity epidemic

The increase in food portion sizes in the past three decades may have led to the simultaneous "super-sizing" of the American waistline, nutritionists from New York University report. The trend of portion sizes has increased over time, and it parallels the increasing prevalence of obesity. People need to pay attention not just to what they eat, but how much.

The researchers measured the portion size of menu items at various fast food and take-out restaurants, and compared those serving sizes with the amounts recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). They also examined how portion sizes have changed in the past three decades.

According to the report, portion sizes rose dramatically since the 1970s, and skyrocketed in the 1980s. For example, foods such as French fries, hamburgers and soda are now two to five times larger than their original sizes. The researchers cite several anecdotal forms of evidence to bolster their case, from car manufacturers installing larger cup holders in cars to bakers using larger muffin tins.

People need to recognize acceptable amounts of food. If you are a member of the 'clean plate' club, and you cleaned your plate 20 years ago and you clean your plate today, you will be eating twice as much.

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