Hiram College

Portion Distortion


Anyone eating on the run or at restaurants has probably noticed that food portions have gotten larger. Some portions are called “super size,” while others have simply grown in size and provide enough food for at least two people. With this growth have come increases in waistlines and body weight.

It’s difficult to avoid eating bigger at home, too. The size of dinner plates, muffin tins and pizza pans have grown. Cars have larger cup holders to accommodate the drink sizes stores sell. As everything gets bigger, bigger starts to seem like the norm, distorting how we think about a serving size or the “right” amount. One study found that modern portion sizes of popular foods added an extra 50 to 150 calories.   While that might not sound like too much, an extra 100 calories per day can pack on an extra 10 pounds of weight in a year!

Some meals appearing “average” in size can add up to a whole day’s worth of calories. A large order of french fries can contain as many as 1,000 calories. Add a hamburger and an extra-large soda, and you’re getting more than 2,000 calories in one sitting. And this isn’t unusual. A study published in 2012 found that 96 percent of restaurant meals exceed USDA recommendations for fat, salt and overall calories.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who shrank their portions by 25% slashed 250 calories a day—enough to help them lose a half-pound a week—and still felt full. Ready to downsize?


*Source:  MedlinePlus, 2013Portion Sizes