Portion distortion in the United States.

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Why is it that American consumers today struggle with obesity and the implications that coincide with this disease, while consumers in other areas of the world are still struggling with such large-scale epidemics as starvation and malnutrition? One of the largest contributors to obesity in the United States is the supersizing of portions, otherwise known as portion distortion. According to the text, portion sizes served in restaurants increased by 25 percent in the United States from 1977 to 1996. This increase in portion sizes has undoubtedly contributed to the heightened amount of obesity our country has experienced over the last few decades.
I believe that it is important for American consumers to know and understand the dangers that result from consuming such large portions. One of the restaurants that I eat at on a regular basis, Chipotle, serves its customers some of the most ridiculous sized portions I have seen in my entire life. I also ate at Manny's Steakhouse with my family recently, and one of the options on the menu was a double porterhouse steak with approximately 50 ounces of meat. I ate a small filet mignon (approximately 6 ounces) and I was completely full! I know from personal experience how hard it can be to say no to leftover food when you are already full, which is why restaurants in the United States should not offer these massive portions in the first place. I think that the food industry should be taking immediate action to reduce portion sizes in an attempt to restrain the rate of obesity.


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7 Comments

This article is really interesting because this is a very important topic that is of trouble in our country. It's very interesting to see that the portion sizes increases dramatically from the 70's-90's. Especially concerning was while we struggle with food portions and too much food, other parts of the world are struggling with not enough food. Portion sizes could stem from the idea that restaurants want to "one up" the size and portion of other restaurants so that they are remembered for there large portion sizes. Overall, it was a very interesting read.

I also find this topic really interesting. Even though restaurants are trying to give people more for their money by increasing portions the negative side effects are so much larger than just obesity. For the restaurants to be able to sell more for the same price they have to sacrifice quality for quantity. I'm not sure if it's true but I saw a fact that said that McDonald's hamburgers are actually only 18% beef. Also even though consumers think they're saving, they end up spending more money in healthcare in the future when eating poorly catches up. It will be interesting to see how humans adapt through many years since we were not meant to eat GMOs and other foods that are unnatural like twinkies, cereal, pop, the list goes on and on!

Good post, I found it very interesting as this is a major issue in the U.S. Restaurants, especially fast food, try to sell their food based off of how good of a deal it is for the consumer. This causes people to eat more since they think they are getting good value. However, the quality of the food will probably suffer. Getting food at a cheap price is becoming less desirable each day, at least for me. The quality is getting to a point that you might as well go dig in a garbage can and eat some stuff out of there. I recently ate at Fogo de Chao, also not the best place to eat if you are worried about over eating, but the quality of their food makes you not worry so much about what you are eating. I also went to a KFC the other day that had a buffet, a new option at least for me, and 90% of the people in the KFC were noticeably overweight. Something needs to change or people will keep getting bigger.

The aspect of the larger portions that makes them so commonly abused (at least by me) is the steeper discounts you get as the portions get bigger and bigger. For example, at Red Lobster there is currently a deal where you can get a 4 course meal (soup, salad, entree and dessert) for only 15 dollars. Otherwise, only the entree can cost the same in some cases. The desire to get your moneys worth - and the company's goal to increase your desire - obligates you to get as much as possible and its not always easy to stop eating when you're full while there's a heaping bowl of warm, delicious seafood alfredo in front of you. If restaurant prices were based more directly on quantity in this day and age, I genuinely believe the obesity rates in the USA would drop.

Good post! I too find high portions such a bad thing for Americans! While what we are eating is much of the problem in obesity, it is also the high quantities we are eating. While we want to get our money's worth when we go out to eat, we need to realized our portions are highly distorted, as the title said. Either we stuff ourselves full and eat the whole thing in one sitting, or the excess is thrown away! Both are bad things! Also, adding to the comment before me, many times at restaurants it seems your portion is doubled for only a dollar more or so, so why not get the bigger size?

This was a great post and was very interesting to read. About 2 weeks ago I went with my fraternity to Feed My Starving Children, an organization that helps send meals to children that are malnourished across the globe. It was eye-opening as to how many people in the world are going hungry, while countries like America are having increased rates of obesity. One fact I learned that really stuck was that the rate of hungry people in places such as India and African countries are increasing, while on the other part of the globe countries such as America and Great Britain are having increased rates of obesity. This made me a lot more conscious of when I waste food or if I take too much food at the dining center. I liked how you talked about portion-sizes because while I was traveling in Europe this Summer, I realized how truly large our portion-sizes are. These differences occurred not only at fast-food places such as McDonald's,but also in sit-down restaurants. There's no doubt that this has to change in order to help keep America healthy, as well as to stop the poorer countries from being starved.

I have always felt that the American method of "eating to get full" would be a very interesting Psychological study. Why is it that when we eat, we want to be absurdly full, while members of other countries do not dare to eat more than what is necessary? It is almost as if we feel that the act of eating is not successful unless we know in that very moment of concluding eating that we are full. I have read that an individual who eats an appropriate amount of food should not know they are "full" or unable to eat more until at least a half hour after concluding the meal.

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This page contains a single entry by kiell002 published on March 29, 2012 4:25 PM.

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