Eat Healthy

Portion Distortion in America

When eating at many restaurants, it's hard to miss that portion sizes have gotten larger in the last few years. The trend has also spilled over into the grocery store and vending machines, where a bagel has become a BAGEL and an "individual" bag of chips can easily feed more than one. Research shows that people unintentionally consume more calories when faced with larger portions. This can mean significant excess calorie intake, especially when eating high-calorie foods. Here are some tips to help you avoid some common portion-size pitfalls.

Serving Size Differences between 2002 marketplace and USDA Food Guide Pyramid recommendations:

Bagel Chain Store 3.9-5.0 oz Recommended 2.0 oz
Roast beef sandwich filling Avg. Restaurant 3.9-7.9 oz Recommended 2.5 oz
Cooked pasta Avg. Restaurant 2.6-3.3 cups Recommended 0.5 cup

Portion sizes have increased 2-5 times greater than the original size introduced:

Hershey's chocolate bar 0.6 oz in 1908 1.6 - 8.0 oz in 2002
Burger King Hamburger sandwich 3.9 oz in 1954 4.4-12.6 oz in 2002
McDonald's soda 7 fl oz in 1955 12-42 fl oz in 2002
Coca Cola bottle 6.5 fl oz in 1916 8-34 fl oz in 2002

Download a helpful portion control brochure to help you manage your eating habits.

In 2001, the Surgeon General announced a "Call to Action" for obesity prevention which stressed the importance of portion control. With the trend of serving sizes continuing to grow to meet consumer demand, it appears that the obesity crisis is here to stay - at least for awhile.

Check Your Health has designed a chart explaining the serving sizes of each of the food groups, along with an estimate of what that portion size looks like. You can also visit the USDA or American Dietetic Association websites to get a copy of all of the serving sizes of the Food Guide Pyramid.

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