Portion Sizes Gone Wild

I’m vacationing in Europe and once again I’m marveling at the difference in portion sizes here versus the United States.  That’s not to say that portion sizes haven’t increased in Europe, thanks to the influence of the food industry, which makes larger profits as portion sizes grow.  It’s just that the United States seems to offer portion sizes at restaurants and in food stores that are enormous compared to the rest of the world.

If you listen to the baloney coming out the mouthpieces for the food industry, they consistently point to “personal responsibility” as the real culprit in America’s epidemic of overweight and chronic disease.  Yet study after study has shown that when people are served large portions of food, they consume large portions of food.  And if portion sizes are smaller, the vast majority of people will feel satisfied with less food. 

Isn’t it time for the food industry to exercise a bit of personal responsibility and at least offer Americans a choice between the typical supersized portions and a smaller size?  Since smaller portions mean smaller profits for the food industry, the only way we can get this change is to demand it — we need to stop ordering huge portions, begin splitting more dishes or ordering several appetizer-sized portions rather than an enormous entree.  Desserts can also be easily shared by two to four people.

There’s no policy that can make the food industry sell and serve smaller portions.  But consumers can let their desires be known by voting with their wallets.

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