Portion Sizes. bigger, Bigger, BIGGER.

Let me go into teacher mode for a second and give you a few hard facts about obesity: - More than one third of US adults (37.5%) are obese.

- Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.

- The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.

I can't make this stuff up! In fact, you can read all about it on the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention website. How insane must we be to keep feeding this epidemic? No pun intended. The cost is more than we can handle, financially, medically and personally. We've taken on a 'treatment' infrastructure instead of going to the root of the issue and preventing this kind of outbreak.

America isn't struggling with an obesity epidemic simply because we make poor food choices. Yes, that is a growing concern (these puns are inevitable, sheesh), but another contributing factor is our increasing portion sizes. You can't even find a small anything anymore. Because what we now know to be size 'small' used to be a large a decade or two ago.

The Huffington Post has a great slideshow illustrating just how much our food portions have increased in the past several years. Check this out:

1. In 1950 a typical chicken weight 3 pounds. Now, a full-grown chicken weighs 5 pounds. Why? According to the National Chicken Counsil it's because the cost per pound goes down with larger birds.

2. Bigger Plates. In the 1950's we used 9" dinner plates. Today, a typical dinner plate measures in at 12". Bigger plates lead to bigger portions. If you're looking to watch what you eat, try using smaller dishware and cutlery.

3. Just TWO years ago 2 slices of pizza cost you 500 calories. Today, the same portion equates to 850 calories. Gross!

4. 20 years ago you'd consume 270 calories when you ordered buttered popcorn at the movies. Today, order a small and you're consuming 670 cals with 24 grams of saturated fat (the bad kind). A large? 1200 calories with 60 - yes 60! - grams of saturated fat. I love popcorn just as much as the next person, but with all that coconut oil, you're eating an entire days worth of calories in one movie snack!!

5. Starbucks has always had three sizes, however, twenty years ago those sizes used to be "short" 8 oz, "tall" 12 oz, and "grande" 16 oz. Now...well we've added the "venti" 20 oz cup and the "trenta" 31 oz bucket, errrr, I mean cup. Just for fun, it's worth mentioning that you can still order any hot beverage in a size "short".

6. McDonalds in the 1950's had one size of fries. 2.4 oz and 210 calories. That size is now labeled a small and is only one third of the amount you get when you order the large 7 oz portion with 610 calories. Annnnnd that's without the burger and soda. Be afraid, be very afraid.

7. You know those mini bagels they sell at supermarkets? The tiny cute ones? Yeah, 20 years ago that was the typical size of a bagel. 3" in diameter and 140 calories. Now? You'll get double that (if not more) with a 6" brick of bread with 350 cals. 

8. Twenty years ago we quenched our thirst with a typical 6.5 oz bottle of Coke for 82 calories. Now, we grab a typical 20 oz bottle, adding 250 liquid calories to our diet on a daily basis. Calories, which I might add, with absolutely zero nutritional value.

9. Drinking wine? If you want to stick with a single 4 oz portion of alcohol, you'll only need to fill that 14 oz glass up 1/3 of the way. Crazy, right? I mean, who does that!?

10. An averaged sized cookie 20 years ago was 1/5" in diameter and 55 calories. Now, you'll be hard pressed to find a cookie smaller than 3.5" in diameter and less than 275 cals. So, our cookies today are the same size of the bagel in 1950. Yep.

These are just a few of the many examples of the size increases we're making in the food industry today. It's scary. Some of these changes were made in two years time, many in 20 years...so in another few decades what will our portions look like? Be advocates of your health. Just because it's served that way doesn't mean you have to eat it all. Ask for a doggie bag before you even get your meal and once it arrives, portion half aside for leftovers. Make an effort to order small and please, just cringe and walk away when you hear the word 'supersize'. You can't afford it. Your pocket, sure, but your health, not a chance. You just may not survive a lifetime of decisions like that.


Eat well. Live well. Be well.