Why Are Food Portions Increasing?

Why Are Food Portions Increasing?

There's no question that obesity is a serious problem in the United States. More than a third of American adults are obese, and a big contributor to this alarming statistic is our food: it just keeps getting bigger. The average muffin is 250% larger than it was in the mid 1990s, and the average spaghetti dinner has doubled since then. But why? A big reason is consumer demand. When businesses make their products bigger, they give us more bang for our buck. We buy the bigger product, profits increase, and the cycle continues. So how do we maintain our waistlines around ever-growing portions? The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has a few tips: when dining out, swap a side salad for fries, and eat only half of the entree, either by sharing with a friend or packing half to go.

McDonald's Portions: 1955 vs. Now

They started with 9 options, now they have 170.

01:17

Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    When McDonald's first opened in 1955, they had nine menu items. As of August 2015, they have around 170 menu items worldwide. (0:08)

  • 2

    In 1955, the one hamburger available was 3.7 ounces, and the one size of fries was 2.4 ounces. Today, burgers range from 3.5 to 9.2 ounces, and fries don't even start at 1955 sizes: the smallest available is 2.6 ounces, and they max out at 5.9 ounces. (0:20)

  • 3

    In 1955, there was one size of beverage: 7 ounces. Today, drink sizes start at 12 ounces and go all the way up to 30 ounces. (0:46)

Why Portion Sizes Matter

Adults eat 92% of what they put on their plate.

Fast Food Chain Facts

In 'n' out burger prints bible verses on all of its products.

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