Since 1999, obesity rates in the United States have increased dramatically — from 30.5% to 42.4% by 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans It states that as of 2018, 74% of American adults were overweight or obese, which puts them at risk of developing chronic diseases.
Unsurprisingly, a recent report published in American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) Shows that obesity rates are increasing in parallel with the increase in the volumes of packaged foods and fast food in America—Between two and five times the previous regular serving sizes when originally served. Many products haven’t changed since 2002’s recommendations, and packages are still five times larger than before.
says Lisa Young, Ph.D., RDN, member of our Medical Expert Council, and principal investigator for AJPH Transfer. “Research also shows that we eat more when we serve more food – even if we don’t feel hungry and don’t like the food.”
This original report, published December 8 by Young and Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, focuses on larger portions of ultra-processed foods and calls for policies and practices that will encourage appropriate serving sizes.
The study notes that “current US policies support the production of larger portions by subsidizing basic ingredients that promote overproduction and lower prices. Food in the United States is relatively inexpensive compared to manufacturing and service costs, and larger portions can generate additional revenue for little cost. For consumers Large portions may seem like a bargain, but they contain more calories and encourage overeating.”
To put this in perspective, while a large Coke from Burger King in the UK has 262 calories, in the US it is big enough to consume 510 calories.
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Larger portion sizes negatively affect the health of low-income communities.
This is not the first time that Young or Nestle have presented their research and encouraged policy change. Together, the two experts published previous reports, including one in 2002 where they noted an increase in food portions on the market that exceed federal standards, although physical activity remained the same. Their 2003 report in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics It states that this lack of change can easily be linked to the increased prevalence of Americans who are overweight.
However, while earlier versions of Dietary Guidelines for Americans Described as “the single greatest public health threat of this century”, Young and Nestlé report no change in portion sizes served in restaurants and in packaged foods in their 2012 report by American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
“It’s important to focus on what we eat with how much we eat,” Young says. “Both are important to good health!”
they AJPH The report also cites the socioeconomic factors associated with being overweight, commonly seen in societies of “poverty, inadequate education, racial and gender discrimination, unemployment, and a lack of health care.” Frequent consumption of these foods occurs within these communities (resource shortage, low income, food deserts, etc.), making this particular issue a major public health concern. Reducing portion sizes served could be a “helpful strategy for improving overall health,” according to their report.
The Young and Nestle report refers to a newspaper article BMJ Which indicates that 60% of calories consumed between 2007 and 2012 came from ultra-processed foods. Rates of consumption of these foods decreased when comparing age and income level, as well as consumption in societies with lower levels of education.
Pending a policy change, experts provide solutions for portion sizes.
To conclude their report, Young and Nestle’s government solutions include price incentives for selling smaller quantities of ultra-processed foods, stopping large volumes, and even restricting marketing of large portions. Especially around children and minorities.
However, since the policies remain the same, Young suggests several ways to start these practices on your own to ensure better health for your body.
The first is Buy single-serve items. Instead of opening a large bag of chips, open a small bag meant for one person.
“While we may eat ‘several servings’ of a large bag of chips, we are less likely to open a bunch of small bags,” Young says. Also, remember that if buying a large bag is better for your budget, breaking it down into smaller portions to eat later can be an easy fix.
another is Add more fruits and vegetables to your meals.
“You don’t really have to worry about how much of these you eat,” Young says. “Fiber will help you feel full, so you’ll likely stop eating when you’re satisfied. And focus on the positive nutrients and antioxidants you’re getting. Nobody gets fat from eating too many carrots.”
If fresh produce is not readily available to you, experts stress that eating frozen vegetables or fruits can be an easy solution. Cans of low-sodium veggies can also help provide a nutritious side to meals.
Finally, Young says Keep measuring cups close at hand When you cook at home.
“While you don’t need to weigh everything you eat, when pouring cereal, for example, put 1 cup into a measuring cup rather than pouring the cereal directly into a large bowl,” Young says.
For more tips on healthy eating, read the following: