Eat More-Eat More

In the competitive food arena, each company must satisfy stockholders by gaining increasing market share through expanding sales by advertising and developing “new” products. In recent years, the portion size of a serving has increased to encourage greater sales while feeding the obesity epidemic. Portion distortion surrounds today’s supermarket shoppers. They may not realize how dinner plates, cereal bowls, and glasses have changed to accommodate larger portions since the end of the twentieth century.

New product introductions in the 1980s were fewer than 6,000 annually but by 1995, the food industry had introduced 16,900 new food and beverage products [1, p. 13]. Fortunately, the size of supermarkets allows only 50,000-65,000 items from the current estimate of over 320,000 items competing for shelf space [15].

Portion Distortion

Portion distortion can be seen in how the size of bagels has changed over the past 20 years. A bagel 20 years ago was 3 inches in diameter and had 140 kcal. Today a bagel is 5-6 inches in diameter and has 350 kcal.

Pizza serving sizes 20 years ago were two medium wedges totaling 500 kcal. Today a pizza serving is 2 large wedges providing 850 kcal.

French fry servings have greatly changed during the same 20-year period. In the 1980s and 1990s a 2.4 oz. serving had 222 kcal. Today the serving size is 5.4 oz. with 500 kcal.

Plate and glass sizes also influence serving sizes. A 1960s dinner plate was no more than 8-9 inches, but today the average dinner plate is 12 inches. Each extra inch of dinner plate can add 200-400 extra kcal to a meal.

Many techniques have been suggested to help individuals learn to eat less and better judge what a health portion is. Everything from a tennis ball = 1 cup rice or pasta or ice cream to a golf ball as a serving size for peanut butter has been proposed, but since there is no standard serving size for foods commonly eaten, no authoritative source is available to assist in this learning process. Here are some additional ways to teach appropriate serving sizes:

1 deck of cards = 3 oz. chicken 1 domino = 1 oz. cheese 1 die = 1 teaspoon butter or margarine 1 baseball = medium fruit serving 1 female fist = 1 cup pasta or noodles 1 golf ball = 2 tablespoons salad dressing 1 packet dental floss = 1 oz. chocolate 1 computer mouse = baked potato

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