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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Weight Control


The Downside of Supersize

Melinda Hemmelgarn, MS, RD, former Nutritional Sciences Specialist, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri


The supersizing of portions and plates is one of the major factors contributing to the supersizing of Americans. Over 60 percent of Americans are now considered overweight. The rise in obesity among our youth is especially alarming because we are now seeing a type of diabetes (type 2) in children that was previously seen only in overweight adults. However, the other significant factor contributing to obesity is our sedentary society. Keep in mind that we will store any extra calories that we don't burn!

The problem with restaurant supersizes is that when we are served more food, we eat more food. With close to half of the food dollar being spent on food away from home, it's easy to see why our waistlines have been expanding over the past couple of decades. Restaurant food and processed foods are typically higher in calories, sodium, fat and sugar than similar foods prepared at home.

Caloric excess and the resulting obesity is not only a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease, it is also a significant risk factor for cancer. So it makes sense to practice the following strategies for smart, leaner living:

  • Eat at home more often
  • Use smaller plates (less food will look like more)
  • Eat slowly; pay attention to feelings of hunger and satiety
  • Stop eating when comfortably full, but not stuffed
  • Ask for a doggie bag in restaurants
  • Share an entree
  • Avoid buffets, fast food and especially the supersized specials
  • Use low-fat dairy products
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains – they fill us up on less calories and they are loaded with health-promoting nutrients.

For more information on serving sensible-sized portions, visit the American Institute of Cancer Research website.


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Last update: Monday, October 12, 2015