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Supersize Portions Are the New (Ab)Normal in the US (Infographic)

Supersize Portions Are the New (Ab)Normal in the US (Infographic)

The average restaurant meal in the US is now four times larger than it was in the 1950s. Treehugger describes one such meal at a Texas venue that consists of a 72-ounce steak, a shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad, roll and butter: This will provide you with 5,760 calories and 480 grams of fat, far more than an adult needs in one day.

Over-sized portions are the norm at many eateries in the US:

A 64-oz “Double Big Gulp” soda puts 59 teaspoons of sugar and 800 calories into your system.

A Panera cinnamon roll contains 640 calories and a full Sierra Turkey on Focaccia, 920 calories.

A number of popular entrees from Chinese restaurants contain about 1,000 calories each; plus, dishes like lemon chicken and sweet & sour pork are also loaded with sodium.

No wonder the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that over one-third of the US adult population is obese and about 17 percent of children and adolescents are overweight. A recent study predicts that nearly of US adults will be overweight by 2030.

To alert us to how portion sizes in US restaurants have gotten larger, the CDC has created this infographic which can also be seen at Making Health Easier:

CDC The New (Ab)normal

As a result of the titanic meals now served in the US, adults in the US are now 26 pounds heavier.

There are many factors that have contributed to this supersized state of affairs. New York Times columnist Frank Bruni recently noted that, as a result of the past century’s developments in agriculture (mass production of corn, soybeans and wheat; feedlots teeming with livestock; factories making all manner of processed foodstuffs), we are surrounded by an abundance of food which we are eating just because it is there. A quote from Michael L. Power’s and Jay Schulkin’s The Evolution of Obesity succinctly sums up the dilemma of abundance and obesity confronting Americans:

“We evolved on the savannahs of Africa. We now live in Candyland.”

All this is not exactly encouraging. The CDC has some suggestions about how we can fight the “new (ab)normal” of mega-portions: splitting a too-large entrée with someone else; asking for a “to go” box at the start and “wrap[ing] up half your meal as soon as it’s brought to the table; being aware that you’re likely to keep reaching for one more from a large bulk “econo” package.

We can’t go back to living on the savannahs. Can we school ourselves to see the “new (ab)normal” — to realize how very much we’ve loaded onto our plates?

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100 comments

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2:10PM PDT on Sep 25, 2012

When I go out to eat I invariably end up bringing much of it home, especially when I go out for Mexican or Thai. I always get at least two more meals out of them. I have a very healthy appetite, but try to control my food intake as I have had numerous surgeries and can't get around as easily as I used to so weight goes on very easily and is very difficult to get off.

8:22AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Interesting about the super sized meals being sold at many restaurants these days.

Fascinating, a 72 oz. steak at a Texas restaurant along with the rest of the huge meal. Perhaps a food eating contest or something one does on a dare. You get fifty bucks if you can eat every last bit!

Of course, no one really has to eat everything put on their plate. Huge portions, so what? One always has the option of bringing home left overs and having these the next day for dinner if the fare is tasty enough or dare I say it, healthy enough.

Some menu choices obviously are not as in the case of the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas, a venue flouting mega sized meals that are no doubt a novelty place to visit for some. Many say tasteless in the way they portray nurses but not exactly gourmet fare.

Maybe there are those who spend 7 days a week eating out but that does not go for most of us. Do prefer to cook my meals from scratch, local fresh veggies that are non GMO and pesticide free, organically raised meat/poultry not laden with hormones/toxins and meat servings the size of a deck of cards on meat days, which is not every day.

If eating out, some left overs can last me for days but restaurant fare is expensive and I don't eat out much at all.

12:49AM PDT on Jun 10, 2012

Supersized portions can be brought home for a second and maybe even a third meal.

9:38AM PDT on Jun 1, 2012

I have noticed on commercials that the burgers are getting wwwway bigger...don't see how anybody could possibly get their mouths open wide enough to take a bite! Is there some kind of conspiracy going on???

10:07PM PDT on May 30, 2012

I really believe it's not so much what you eat, but how much of it.

12:22PM PDT on May 29, 2012

OMG I wanted to eat the screen, can't wait to have a few acres.... have my own cows for beef and a garden for everything else

9:31AM PDT on May 29, 2012

Size, as they say, isn't everything. As with other things in life, a concentration on quality and techniques give better results- in this case quality fresh local produce put together with imagination and creativity is where good tasty, nutritious food comes from. I often think supersized food is a substitution for the chef/owners lack of skill and imagination. It doesn't bear thinking about how they deal with a lack of basic ability in other aspects of their lives.

5:12PM PDT on May 28, 2012

thanks :)

2:56AM PDT on May 28, 2012

i prefer to eat at large portions of home cooked food. cant eat large portiongs outside for some reason. but then again, i hardly go out. and still mnaintaining the right weight.

12:56PM PDT on May 27, 2012

... and we willingly shove it all down!

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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