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Portion Size and the Obesity Endemic

>> Saturday, September 10, 2011


As blogged previously, portion control (or more appropriately stated, lack thereof) is one of many factors contributing to our obesity endemic.  The consumer marketplace is often an enemy in the battle against portion excess and obesity, as there is most often a drive to provide the best value (= the most food) for your buck.  I'd like to share a little anecdote from some of my recent travels south of the border to illustrate.


I visited a deli for lunch on a recent sojourn to the US - nothing special, but very popular, and apparently known for its Montreal Smoked Meat sandwiches.  In an effort to see what all the hype was about, I looked around, and soon enough I laid my eyes on the deli's biggest selling item:






Hmmm.  Not for me.  For a family of four?  Maybe.

As much as I love smoked meat, I returned to my study of the menu, and found a delicious sounding, lean turkey breast sandwich on rye that I decided I'd like to enjoy instead.   Here is what I was served (half of the full serving is viewed here):




I proceeded to a) wonder how the delicious, high fibre European rye bread I had expected had turned into a fiber poor, taste poor alternative; b) place the other half of the sandwich (not viewed) into a to-go box; and c) consume almost the entire portion pictured above.  Why?  I'd already put away half, which seemed very reasonable... and the turkey was a very lean, healthy source of protein.  And darn it, I'd PAID for it!  So I fell to the pressures of consumerism - I ate far more than I needed to, and while it initially seemed good that I had made it worth my dollar.... the overstuffed feeling in my belly suggested that it may not have been worth it at all.

While portion sizes vary by country, by city, and by restaurant, I can't help but see a correlation with the enormous portion sizes often found in the US compared to Canada, and the parallel variation in obesity rates (currently 34% in USA, 24% in Canada, and only 11% in a country like Denmark, where portion sizes are scaled down even further).

So I suggest caution, fellow consumers: just halving portions may no longer cut it.


Dr Sue Pedersen www.drsue.ca © 2011 drsuetalks@gmail.com

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