Swelling Services: The Growth of American Food Portions
Waistlines and portions are expanding across America. An emphasis on getting more food for less money has caused restaurant and fast-food portions to grow over the last few decades. But
the problem's not limited to out-of-home portions. Grocery store, vending machine, and snack-size offerings have been increasing steadily as well. We take a closer look at how portions
have grown and how we can regain control.
Conspiring to feed us more
- As portions grow, so do American waistlines. A number of forces are conspiring to make us eat more. Packaged food companies are making portions larger, plates are getting bigger, and we're so surrounded by growing
sizes that we don't know how much we ready need to eat.
- Why is eating more a problem? Because obesity is growing over time.
- Obesity prevalence in American population: 1) 1960-1962 ~ 14.7%; 2) 1971-1974 ~ 15%; 3) 1976-1980 ~ 15.2%; 4) 1988-1994 ~ 23.5%; 5) 1999-2000 ~ 20.7%; 6) 2001-2002 ~ 20.9%; 7) 2003-2004 ~ 33.6%;
8) 2005-2006 ~ 35%.
The ever-expanding plate
- On average, portion sizes have gotten a lot larger over the last few decades according to a study by the American Medical Association. The worst offenders are packaged foods like salty snacks, fruit drinks, and soft
drinks. Manufacturers of these packaged goods are among the top conspirators making us fat: 1) 1977: Fruit drinks - 11.3 oz.; Soft drinks - 13.1 oz.; Salty snacks - 1 oz.; 2) 1996: Fruit drinks - 15.1 oz. (34% change in
ounces); Soft drinks - 19.9 oz. (52% change in ounces); Salty snacks - 1.6 oz (60% change in ounces).
Portion size and how much we consume
- So do bigger portions really make us eat more? Absolutely. Short-term studies show subjects consumed 30 percent more food when given a larger portion: 1) 500 g. portion - 335 g. consumed; 2) 1.000 g. - 434 g.
- With bigger portions, you eat 30% more.
- But, eating the bigger portion makes you feel 0% fuller.
- And if you order the larger portion regularly after one year you'd be 8.3 pounds fatter.
- Over inflated portion sizes can make it difficult to understand how much we're really meant to eat. The following are the USDA’s recommended serving sizes: 1) 1 meat serving (3 ounces of meat, fish, or poultry) - 1
deck of cards;2) 1 vegetable serving (1 baked potato) - 1 tennis ball; 3) 1 dairy serving (1 1/2 ounces of cheese) - 1 9-volt battery.
Gain control the easy way
- There are subtle ways we can train ourselves to eat smaller portions. Making smarter decisions about portion size and eating habits can greatly impact a person's weight and overall health: 1) Eating out. Split an entree with
a friend in a to-go container when it arrives; 2) Eating in. Serve food on individual plates of having serving dishes at the center of the table; 3) Limit your access. Keep healthier foods in easy-to-access places, and keep
especially tempting foods out of sight.
Infographic design by Column Five | Massive Health | Sources: Journal of the American Medical Association; American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health;
US Department of Agriculture for Disease Control and Prevention; Mayo Clinic.