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Portion Size Plays Big Role in Weight Problems

Posted - Feb. 17, 2003 at 8:19 a.m.



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Most people aren't surprised to learn that fast food and restaurant portion sizes have increased significantly in the past twenty years.

But you might be surprised to learn the portions served at home have also gotten bigger. That's according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Samara Joy Nielsen, a researcher at the University of North Carolina says, "In 1996, the last year of the study, we see that portion sizes are greatest at fast food establishments and smallest at restaurants. So at home is in between those two."

The study looked at government surveys which focused on foods that were getting popular among Americans.

"These key foods include salty snacks, desserts, Mexican food, french fries, soft drinks, fruit drinks, as well as hamburgers and cheeseburgers," Neilsen explains.

In 1977, the average hamburger weighted 5.7 ounces. By 1996, it was up to 7 ounces, with nearly 100 extra calories.

A typical soft drink went from 13 ounces to nearly 20, with 49 extra calories.

And while a serving of fries increased less than one ounce, that's 68 extra calories.

So if you can't cut the high calorie / high fat foods out completely, at least try to cut back.

"Get a small french fries. This is something that they seem to think that's more doable."

Or, take advice from fast food eater Ewart Morris. "I prefer to get my most food for the money, but take a doggy bag, take it home. You don't necessarily have to eat the whole meal."

And remember, don't supersize at home either.

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