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Increases in Food Portion Sizes
Both the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Journal of the American Dietetic Association published articles in January of 2003 documenting increases in food portion sizes. Larger food portion sizes are not limited to away-from -home eating. It appears bigger portions have also found their way to the dining room table in the typical American home. I have often stated that the biggest problem with super-size portions may not be the added calories associated with them, but rather a shift in our thinking of what makes up a serving of food. Serving sizes that were satisfying 20 years ago are now often considered too small to be adequate.
Iíve always considered myself a visual learner. The visual impact of seeing large serving sizes of food over and over again seems to transfer to a change in my thinking of how much food is needed to satisfy my hunger. When it comes to serving sizes of food, Iím trying to convert from being a visual learner to a hunger satisfier.
In 1949, the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe listed a yield of
100 cookies per batch. Today, the same recipe now states a yield of 60
Between 1977 and 1998, food portion sizes increased both inside and outside
the home for all categories except pizza.1, 2, 3 And why no increase in pizza?
Could it be that Americans have ALWAYS over-consumed pizza?
Over-consumption of pizza was sure a part of my college days of the 1970's.
In the past 20 years, hamburgers have increased
in size by 23%, Mexican food by
27%, soft drinks by 52%, and snacks like chips, pretzels and crackers by
Portion sizes are probably larger than reported in the studies. For one thing,
portion sizes studied in 1998 are now almost 5 years old, and all indications
suggest that food portions have continued to increase. Secondly, people
often tend to under report what they eat.1
Wahida Karmally, a research scientist at Columbia University, calls the
dramatic increase in food portion sizes "portion distortion." Karmally is
especially concerned with the impact of larger portion sizes on children. She
states adults must take seriously the responsibility they have to teach
children how to eat suitable serving sizes of food.3
1 "Studies weigh in on supersizing of America," Nanci Hellmich, USA Today, January 21, 2003.
2 "Super-sized nation," John McKenzie, ABC news.com, February 20, 2003.
3 "Americaís plates are fuller than ever," Ed Edelson, HealthScoutNews, January 21, 2003.
"Patterns and trends in food portion sizes, 1977-1998," Samara Joy Nielsen and Barry M. Popkin. Journal of the American Medical Association, 289(4):450-453, 2003.
"Foods commonly eaten in the United States, 1989-1991 and 1994-1996: Are portion sizes changing?" Helen Smiciklas-Wright, Diane C. Mitchell, Sharon J. Mickle, Joseph D. Goldman, and Annetta Cook. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 103(1):41-47, 2003.
Compiled by Betty Holmes, MS, RD
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