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Feature Articles on Weight Control

Portion control is important for health

By Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD,
Nutrition and Health Education Specialist
Barton County University of Missouri Extension



This article is also available as a pdf file

double cheeseburger

One double cheeseburger can add in excess of 65 grams of fat which is about the amount of fat the average American should have in one day.


In the last two decades, overweight and obesity have become an epidemic in America. The truth of the matter is that we are just eating a lot more than we used to. It is interesting to note that the size of plate we eat on is larger than it was twenty or thirty years ago. And we have come to expect everything to be available in a super size.


According to Karen Collins, RD, in an article for MSNBC, we’re listening to something other than our stomachs to decide when to quit eating. In one study, people were given bowls of soup to eat. One group had a regular bowl of soup and the other group had bowls with holes that were attached to special tables that allowed the bowl to slowly refill as the person ate. People who ate from the bowls that automatically refilled ate 73 percent more than those that ate from the normal bowls. An interesting thing to note is that the people who ate 73 percent more did not believe they had consumed more and they did not report feeling fuller than those who ate from the regular bowl. Other studies have shown that when people are given more food they eat more.


Unfortunately, we are eating larger portions and a lot of the larger portions are from foods that are high calorie to begin with. Fast food restaurants are pricing the larger size at a bargain and we all love a bargain. One double cheeseburger can add in excess of 65 grams of fat which is about the amount of fat the average American should have in one day. Add the super-size French fries to that and you’ve eaten more than half of your fat grams for the next day. Your super-sized soda can have more than 30 teaspoons of sugar making the calorie count of that one meal more than 1,500 calories. The average American should consume around 2,000 calories a day. If you’re thinking most people would just eat less at the next meal, think again. Studies have shown that when people overeat at one meal, they do not compensate by eating less at the next meal.


If you wonder how much you should be eating, go to and enter your age, sex and activity level. It will tell you how many calories and amounts you should consume from all food groups. Daily, the average American should consume 2,000 calories, six ounces of grain (about six slices of bread), 2½ cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of milk, and 5½ ounces of meat. In addition, you can have six teaspoons of oil and 265 calories for things like salad dressing, mayonnaise or sugar in your tea.


Try experimenting with the amount of food you eat. Try eating the foods and amounts recommended by MyPyramid. Or for another challenge, next time you go to a fast food restaurant, purchase the regular burger and small fries. Take your time eating it and then wait fifteen minutes. You may be surprised to find that you are full!



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Last update: Friday, April 23, 2010