FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Portion Distortion

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Since the obesity epidemic began, we have searched endlessly for causes.  Research teaches us that many Americans practice the principle of “the more food that is put in front of people, the more they eat.”   Portion sizes have increased considerably in the last 40 years (just about the time the obesity epidemic is thought to have started). Coincidence?  I think not.

Today, common foods in fast food restaurants have increased in portion size compared to 1978; for example, soft drinks have increased 62%; French fries have increased 57%; and cheeseburgers have increased 24%. A large fast food soft drink today contains 32 ounces, providing about 300 calories, and 20 oz. bottles have replaced 12 oz. cans in many vending machines.

Portion sizes are associated with weight gain, whereas small portions are associated with weight loss. (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines  for Americans, 2010.)

In Japan, the approach to eating is very different. Read about “hara hachi bu” in their culture.  This principle may help some people practice mindful eating. “Mindful eating is the practice of deliberately taking note of every sensory experience associated with eating.” I would also assume that the Japanese have smaller portions to begin with. S.J. Feltner, PhD, RDN

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