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Average Servings Getting Larger and More News

Average Servings Getting Larger and More News


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In today's Media Mix, a look at 'Spinning Plates,' plus Pat LaFrieda's upcoming cookbook

Serving sizes have changed drastically from 20 years ago.

Check out these headlines you may have missed.

Average Serving Size:A new study found that serving sizes for the most part have increased, with most prepackaged foods more than 39 percent larger than 20 years ago on average. [Food Navigator]

Man Traded Wedding Ring for Beer: Apparently back in the 1950s, John Druken traded his wedding ring for a pint of beer, because "at closing time that last beer looks better than all the rest." He's still married. [ABC News]

'Spinnng Plates': A review of the documentary starring Grant Achatz of Alinea and Next. [Chicago Tribune]

Pat LaFrieda's New Cookbook: New York's favorite meat man has announced a debut cookbook titled Meat: Everything There Is to Know. [Eater]

Sugar Intake Decreases Memory: A new study found that high blood sugar was linked to memory problems. [Food and Drink Europe]


Food Portion Sizes Have Grown -- A Lot

— -- More and more Americans are losing their battle against obesity, and a study out this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests a major reason why: Their plates are stacked against them.

Analyzing data from three national surveys involving more than 60,000 Americans, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that serving sizes have grown over the past 20 years, not only at fast-food places, but at other restaurants and even in homes.

"Between 1977 and 1996, food portion sizes increased both inside and outside the home for all categories except pizza," wrote the study's authors, Samara Joy Nielsen and Barry M. Popkin. "The sizes of the increase are substantial."

The data revealed that over the past 20 years:

Hamburgers have expanded by 23 percent A plate of Mexican food is 27 percent bigger Soft drinks have increased in size by 52 percent Snacks, whether they be potato chips, pretzels or crackers, are 60 percent larger.

Not surprising, the prevalence of adult obesity in the United States has increased from 14.5 in 1971 to 30.9 percent in 1999.

Other researchers say food portions have been gradually getting larger because that's what many consumers want. It's called "value sizing" — getting more food for the dollar.

The problem is, whether you want so much food or not, the more you're served, the more you eat.

At Penn State University's College of Health and Human Development, that theory was put to the test. Volunteers were given a different amount of macaroni and cheese each day for lunch. Researchers then watched to see if larger portions resulted in greater consumption.

The study, published last month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was led by Barbara Rolls. "It didn't matter if it was men or women, dieters or non-dieters, people who were overweight or not, people who habitually clean their plates or not," she said. "Everyone responded to the increased portion size by eating more."

On average, the volunteers ate 30 percent more from a five-cup portion of macaroni and cheese than from a serving one-half its size, without reporting feeling fuller after eating.

Perhaps even more troubling, most of the volunteers never even noticed when the portions were getting larger.

"I think it's quite astounding," said Rolls, "because we were serving them alone in a little booth in a lab where they had nothing to do but pay attention to the food. Think what would go on in a restaurant when you're distracted by your friends and all the other things going on. You're even less likely in that situation to notice portion sizes."

Less likely to notice, perhaps, until larger portion sizes become larger body sizes.


How much protein is in chicken breast

The first thing that's crucial to understand is that not all chicken is the same. There are different amounts of protein depending on the part of the chicken you decide to eat. The typical serving of chicken is 4-5 ounces, which means different amounts of protein depending on if you're eating chicken breast or chicken wings. To calculate the proper amount of protein per serving, we used the USDA FoodData Central.

Four ounces of chicken breast equates to 27 grams of protein, which is the most bang for your buck when it comes to a serving of chicken. Eating chicken breast is definitely the best way to have the most protein-packed meal when it comes to chicken.


Related Content

McDonald’s offering customers free McFlurries thanks to ‘misunderstood spoon’

“Our first value is taking care of our people, and today we are rewarding our hardworking employees in McDonald-owned restaurants for serving our communities,” Joe Erlinger, president of McDonald’s USA, said in a press release. “These actions further our commitment to offering one of the leading pay and benefits packages in the industry.”

The company says it is seeking to hire 10,000 new employees over the next three months as the summer season approaches and dining rooms reopen amid the pandemic.

The wage increases will be rolled out over the next several months.

McDonald’s says it expects some of its restaurants have, or will, reach an average hourly wage of $15 an hour this year, while overall average hourly wages are expected to reach $15 an hour by 2024.

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What’s an average serving? Portion size guidance ‘no longer fit for purpose’

Portion sizes have increased in many food categories over the past 20 years

Recent EU legislation on the provision of food information to consumers (FIC) specifies that food portions should be easily recognisable and quantified on food labelling, but it does not provide guidance on how to quantify a portion on pack, the BHF said.

In the UK, the government has recommended that industry display per portion values on front-of-pack nutrition labels for calories, saturated and total fat, sugar and salt, and therefore, the BHF argues it is necessary to base this information on realistic portion sizes.

With that in mind, the organisation commissioned research to compare current portion sizes with those provided in a 1993 government publication, Food Portion Sizes.​ It found an increase across most categories over the past 20 years, including for muffins, bagels, pizzas, pies and ready meals.

“We know that portion sizes influence how much we eat. Put simply, larger portions encourage us to eat more – and shape our view of what is a normal amount to eat,”​ BHF chief executive Simon Gillespie said in a foreword to the report.

Who ate all the pie?

In one case, a chicken curry and rice ready meal was 53% larger today than it was in 1993, providing an extra 420 calories. On average, individual meat lasagne servings were 39% larger, and individual chicken pies were 40% larger.

However, some portion sizes had shrunk. Average tortellini portions were 49% smaller than those of 20 years ago, milk chocolate bars tended to be smaller than the 1993 average of 54 g and ice creams also tended to be smaller today.


The Pizza Problem

Favorite foods like pizza may just need a makeover. Pizza can have lots of calories, refined grains, and fats. But with a few tweaks, it can be OK:

  • Choose a thin, whole-grain crust.
  • Pile on veggies and skip meat.
  • Use low-fat or fat-free cheese or just a sprinkle.
  • Have one small slice and fill the rest of your plate with vegetables.


Portion control is in the palm of your hands

Simin Levinson, lecturer at Arizona State University’s School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, shows how to use your hands as a way to control the portion of food you eat.

A lunch or dinner of properly portioned salmon, rice, broccoli and fruit can be plated by using your hands to estimate the quantities. (Photo: Gannett/ John Samora, The Arizona Republic)

Story Highlights

  • We're still eating much larger portions than we should
  • Restaurants, even cookbooks partly to blame
  • Palm can measure fruit, vegetables and meats

Portions are spinning out of control. We eat bagels the size of a small Frisbee and popcorn from tubs. A typical restaurant bowl of pasta could feed a small family.

Much of what Americans eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner is two to three times bigger than the government's definition of a portion, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based consumer group.

Health experts place much of the blame for America's growing waistlines on larger portions. Poor diet and lack of exercise also are cited as the main reasons one-third of Americans are obese.

"People hear a lot about what they should eat, but not how much they should eat. Many have no idea what a healthy portion of chicken, rice, fruits and other foods are, and that is one of the reasons we are eating way too much," said Simin Levinson, lecturer at Arizona State University's School of Nutrition and Health Promotion.

Take the common tuna-fish sandwich, for example. A standard tuna serving set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is one-fourth of a pound and 340 calories. However, many restaurants now serve a tuna sandwich weighing two-thirds of a pound, with 720 calories, according to the center.

According to experts, today's portion crisis has gradually unfolded over 20 years. Blame falls squarely on restaurants and a cagey marketing strategy. For a little bit more, they entice us to eat more. Too many of us do, both at restaurants and at home.

"What we see on a restaurant plate has become the norm. Our portions are bigger, our plates are bigger and our appetites are bigger," Levinson said.

Cookbooks also appear to be playing a role in portion mania. Researchers at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab reviewed the serving sizes and calorie content from recipes in seven editions of the "The Joy of Cooking," the editions from 1936, 1946, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1997 and 2006.

The findings: Your dish likely has far more calories than the recipe your grandma made from an earlier edition of the cookbook.

Researchers found 18 recipes present in all seven editions, and the average calories per serving increased in 17 of them. Among the dishes: brownies, sugar cookies, apple pie, macaroni and cheese, beef stroganoff, Spanish rice and goulash.

Using standard nutritional analysis techniques, serving size and calorie levels for those recipes, the researchers found that the average number of calories per recipe in 1936 was 2,124, with about 268 calories per serving. In 2006, those numbers had risen to 3,052 calories total in each dish, with 436 calories a serving.

Americans of all ages overeat, but those growing up during the last two decades of super-sizing are particularly guilty of bloated portions.

As ASU nutrition senior Amy Hergenroether said, "My friends have no idea what a portion should be, and they believe it makes sense to pay a little more for a lot more food. To eat healthy portions, they must first learn what one actually is and not fall for the economics that make it attractive to eat twice as much as you should."

At ASU, nutritionists recommend using your hands as guides. A portion of chicken, fish, beef or other protein is the size and width of your palm. Starchy carbohydrates like pasta, potatoes and rice are the size of your fist. A serving of fat, including peanut butter, olive oil or butter, is half a thumb.

A fruit serving fits in the palm of one hand, vegetables in the palm of two hands.

"Unlike a deck of cards, tennis ball, measuring cups or other visual images, hands are always at the table with you," Levinson said. "They are practical and accurate."

After learning what a portion looks like, make a commitment to eat healthy portions at least 80 percent of the time.

-- When dining at restaurants known for their jumbo portions, half is the new whole. Split an entree or take half home for later.

-- Be mindful. Pay attention to how much butter you slather on bread and to the dressing you pour on your salad.

-- Eat off smaller plates and bowls. The serving of spaghetti that looks anemic on a 12-inch dinner plate can pass as a satisfying meal on a 10-inch plate.

-- Cheat with vegetables. If you must super-size, double the portions of salad, broccoli and other low-calorie, nutritious produce.

-- Eat slowly and the portions will seem bigger. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the signal that your stomach has had enough.

-- Practice makes perfect. Measure out a cup of cereal and half cup of milk for a few weeks. Eventually, you will be able to eyeball the correct amount.


This expert advice will change how you think about ‘serving sizes’ on food labels

Two nutrition expert reveal why we should ignore the 'serving size' on food labels, and what to do instead.

Look. I wouldn’t say I’m a rule-breaker, but when it comes to ‘serving sizes,’ I colour myself something of a rebel.

It’s not unusual for me to eat a family-sized stir fry in one sitting, or throw caution to the wind with a block of dark chocolate. Yet, I’ll admit, I always feel a hint of guilt creep in when at supposedly eating a meal big enough to feed a small tribe, by myself.

Thankfully, these arbitrary serving sizes should be taken with a grain of salt, according to human nutrition and food science lecturer Emma Beckett and senior researcher Tamara Bucher from Newcastle University.

Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this. And no, we promise won&apost spam you.

The Health Star Rating system is currently under review. Source:BodyAndSoul

In a piece for The Conversation, the nutrition experts pointed out that a ‘standard serve’ is not the same as the ‘serving size’ you find on food labels.

The former, set by the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, is calculated by energy-density, which differs between food groups and even within the food groups. For example one serving of grains is about 500kj, which can be either half a bread roll or half a cup of porridge.

Nutritionist Kathleen Alleaume shows news.com.au's Kate Midena the portion sizes you should be eating.

Nutritionist Kathleen Alleaume shows news.com.au's Kate Midena the portion sizes you should be eating.

On the other hand, a serving size found on food labels has nothing to do with a standard serve. Instead, it is decided by the manufacturer based on how much they expect a person to typically eat, or the unit size the product is eaten in. In Australia, there are currently no rules about how it is determined, meaning a serving size can vary between products or brands of the same product. Therefore, it is not a recommendation on how much you should eat, nor a reflection of the correct portion size.

Image: iStock. Source:BodyAndSoul

Yet, research shows these food labels have an impact on our eating habits. We use them as recommendations for portion size or dietary guidelines, and are more likely to eat larger portions of foods with larger servings sizes on the labels, such as cookies, cereal and lasagne. Interestingly, lollies with larger serving sizes have been found to have the opposite effect. This is perhaps because large numbers of kilojoules stand out to consumers and put them off.

Both Beckett and Bucher recommend using the per 100g information, instead of the per serve, to get a more accurate comparison between products. Then you can look at how the total energy will fit within your daily intake. The recommended diet for the average adult is based on eating about 8,700kj per day.

Consider yourself freed from the shackles of serving sizes, and the guilt of tucking into a so-called family-sized stir fry.


A Guide to Protein Serving Sizes

We looked at protein-rich foods and tell you how many grams of protein you really get in a serving of chicken breast, eggs and more.

Protein is one powerhouse nutrient. It helps keep you full, and your body uses it to help grow and maintain muscles, blood vessels, skin, hair and nails. Plus, protein also plays a key role in synthesizing hormones and enzymes in your body.

Protein is found in a variety of foods, including meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, beans, nuts and whole grains. According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, women need 46 grams of protein and men need 56 grams of protein (but this does vary depending on how many calories you eat each day). Learn exactly how much protein you need to eat every day. Your protein needs are also dependent on your age, activity level and whether you are pregnant or have any chronic diseases.

If you eat a balanced diet, you are likely getting the daily required amount without much difficulty.ਊ standard 3-oz. chicken breast has about 26 grams of protein in it, which is more than half of what&aposs recommended for women. But despite the fact that most people get enough protein, it remains a popular macronutrient to eat. It helps keep you full (read: less hangry)ਊnd powers up your muscles.

To make it easier for you to eat up, we looked at what a serving of protein looks like and how much you&aposre getting from different sources.


America is addicted to overeating. New food labels are too little, too late

A recent overhaul of nutrition guidelines will revise portion sizes upward, to better reflect eating patterns. But will that just reinforce them?

‘The fact that portion sizes have been increasing for years is a well-measured phenomenon.’ Photograph: Creativ Studio Heinemann / WestEnd61 / Rex Features

‘The fact that portion sizes have been increasing for years is a well-measured phenomenon.’ Photograph: Creativ Studio Heinemann / WestEnd61 / Rex Features

Last modified on Thu 2 Aug 2018 19.34 BST

T his week, the White House and the FDA announced the first major overhaul to the nutrition guidelines printed on packaged foods in two decades. This will bring changes like larger fonts indicating portion size, calling out added sugars and new serving sizes that better reflect how people actually eat.

All of these changes are aimed at helping Americans make healthier food decisions – but will they really help the ever-expanding American waistline?

Under the current guidelines, a serving of ice cream is a half-cup – that is, four servings in a pint. Under the new system, a serving of ice cream will become two-thirds of a cup, making that same pint just three servings.

This may not seem like a major change – and it probably does, indeed, reflect how people actually consume ice cream. But if the purpose of nutrition labels is to guide people in making better food choices, does increasing portion sizes actually help? Or will the person who is intent on eating that full pint of ice cream by themselves take comfort in the fact that they’ve only eaten three portions, not four?

The fact that portion sizes have been increasing for years is a well-measured phenomenon. In their 2009 study The Joy of Cooking Too Much, Brian Wansink and Collin R Payne found 18 recipes that had been continuously published in The Joy of Cooking from 1936 to 2006. Over those 70 years, portion sizes and calorie counts had increased incredibly: in 14 of the 18 recipes, calorie counts had shot up nearly 50%.

A chicken gumbo recipe with 228 calories in 1936 had increased to 576 calories per portion by 2006. As Wansink noted: “These recipes were once intended to serve nearly twice as many people as they do today, so don’t let a full portion get anywhere near your plate.”

Or look at Coke. Today, 20-ounce bottles of the sugary soda are ubiquitous. Sold as a single portion, that bottle packs in 240 calories – nearly 10% of an average man’s daily recommended calorie intake and 130% of his added sugars for the day. Compare that to 1955, when Coca-Cola introduced the “family size” bottle for the first time: it was 26 ounces and intended to serve a family of four. Did some people drink that whole bottle themselves? Of course they did. But that was the exception today, it’s the norm.

That 1950s consumer had no real way to know what was in his or her Coke bottle because labels were inconsistent and only lightly regulated. Companies could decrease portion sizes to make a food appear to have lower calories or increase portion sizes to make something seem more nutritious.

In 1972, the FDA first proposed comprehensive nutrition labelling practices however, the “inclusion of such information was to be voluntary, except when nutrition claims were made on the label, in labeling, or in advertising, or when nutrients were added to the food. In those cases, nutrition labeling would be mandatory”.

At the time, the FDA was more concerned with deceptive practices – was there enough seafood in seafood cocktail or oranges in orange juice – than in consumer nutrition. In fact, as FDA commissioner Charles D Edward said in 1973: “We’re not trying to tell the American public what to eat.”

Today, the government still isn’t telling the public what to eat – but it’s certainly trying to give people a shove in the right direction. As first lady Michelle Obama, a major proponent of the new labels, noted: “This is going to make a real difference in providing families across the country the information they need to make healthy choices”.

Which brings us back to those expanding portion sizes. Will seeing the increased caloric content of these new, larger servings dissuade the average consumer from eating too much? When I spoke with Lauren Kronisch, a clinical Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and weight loss dietitian, she told me that the new labels “will be a positive development for most consumers”.

Most people “underestimate how much they are consuming, and perceive their portion to be less than what it actually is . The listed portion sizes will allow many consumers to understand more accurately what they were already eating.”

Just how many consumers avail themselves of this new data remains to be seen. In a 2015 study of fast food menu labels, researchers found that while 60% of consumers read the calorie contents of menu items, only 16% used that information to guide their food buying choices. The introduction of the added sugars label alone is a huge step in the right direction and, judging from the apoplexy of the sugar industry, one that might actually do some good.

But if accepted portion sizes keep on increasing, will that be enough? Alas, America is addicted to overeating, and these labels may be too little, too late.



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