The super-sizing of the American waistline over the past 30 years has coincided with a sharp increase in food portion sizes inside and outside the home--most notably in fast food restaurants.
The findings from a new study confirm suspicions that serving sizes have grown ever larger and may be contributing to the rising rates of overweight and obesity in the US.
Researchers analyzed data from national surveys conducted between 1977 and 1998 and including more than 63,000 people aged 2 years and older.
Portion sizes increased for nearly all foods at home and in restaurants.
The serving size of an average soft drink, for instance, increased from 13 ounces and 144 calories to nearly 20 fluid ounces and 193 calories. The average cheeseburger grew from 5.8 ounces to 7.3 ounces, swelling from 397 to 533 calories. And salty snacks grew from 1 ounce to 1.6 ounces, climbing from 132 calories to 225 calories.
Pizza was the only food that didn't blossom in size or calories between the late 1970s and the mid-1990s, and portions actually decreased in size.
The largest portion sizes were found in fast food restaurants between 1994 and 1998, but for desserts, hamburgers, and cheeseburgers, the largest portion sizes were actually dished out at home.
Since an additional 100 calories a day can translate into 10 extra pounds a year, the study underscores the need to control portion size as a way to control weight.
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