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Portion Distortion

April 25, 2013

Eva Gusnowski

The “Obesity Epidemic” isn’t just a pseudo-band made up by the minds behind Jimmy Kimmel bits. It’s real and it is threatening the health of a large portion of the population. And restaurants are certainly not helping.

The portion of food provided by restaurants, theaters, fast food places, and you name it, is much higher than what is appropriate for even a mammoth. And the proportions have been increasing steadily for many MANY years.

 



We would all like to believe that we are strong-minded individuals. But can simple willpower prevent us from overeating?

Recent research has attempted to see if mindfulness and education would allow control over the amount of food that was eaten. Participants were placed in the education (taught about how external factors can affect food intake), mindfulness (taught how to increase the sensory awareness of food) or control (taught nothing) group. These individuals were then randomized and initially served either an oversized portion or an appropriate portion of food, with further access to as much food as they wanted after the initial portion was finished.

Regardless of the group the participants initially belonged to, on average the people fed the larger portion ate 34% more than those fed the smaller portion. In comparison to the recommended amount of calories for a meal, people given the small portion ate within the recommended allowance, while those given the larger portion exceeded it. This means that regardless of what we know or what we are taught, if there is more food available to us then we will eat more than we need or than we should. So really, the best thing we can do to prevent overeating is to petition restaurants to decrease portion sizes.

Size really does matter, in ways that we never knew before.

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