It's the season for eating . . . A helping of lokshin,
a serving of kugel and a couple of potato
latkes, a piece of chicken with the skin. Sounds like
it's a harmless enough Chanukah meal, but maybe not. The
problem is precisely with those servings and helpings because
they may be a lot larger than they once were. The culprit
— that uniquely Jewish phenomenon, known as super-
sizing. But restaurants also have been copying the Jewish
phenomenon with large servings.
As research clearly shows: When more food is put on our
plate, we eat more. And when we eat more, well, you know what
So let us ask you two questions: Do you really know how much
you're eating? And has your portion size judgment gotten
completely out of whack? You better take a closer look,
before Chanukah time arrives.
A recent study by NYU nutritionist, Dr. Marian Nestle, Ph.D.,
looked at changes in portion sizes (including packaged goods
and restaurants) in the past 25 years. Dr. Nestle compared
these portion changes to federal recommendations in place
during this time. Here are some of her team's findings:
* The American food supply now provides each American with
500 more calories a day than it did in the 1970s.
* Relative to federal standards, serving sizes have doubled,
and in some cases even quadrupled, since the 70s, for
virtually all foods except a slice of white bread.
* In many instances, so-called single servings of active
people-friendly foods now greatly exceed the U.S. federal
recommended serving size. Examples are: muffins by 333
percent, pasta by 475 percent and bagels by almost 200
* Kitchenware have also expanded in size, with restaurants
now routinely using larger dinner plates, serving pans,
glasses, even cutlery.
* Cookbooks have been affected as well. Recipes that used to
serve 8, for example, now serve 4, meaning the serving size
* Since the 1970s, single servings of soft drinks have
tripled, with a 32-ounce soft drink now constituting the
norm. French fries served at most American (nonkosher) food
outlets have easily tripled in serving size during this
Super-sizing has led to another phenomenon: the value meal.
These days, one can usually buy a value meal that includes a
mega-burger, x-large fries and a gigantic soft drink for less
than one would pay for smaller versions purchased
individually. In essence, you end up paying less for more
calories, most of which we don't need.
So, you get the idea? The public health implications from all
this are profound, as researchers now point to expanding
portion sizes as one of the primary reasons our waistlines
are expanding as well. In the past two decades, the obesity
rate in the United States has doubled among adults and
children, and the diabetes rate has skyrocketed
This research was done on non-kosher food and marketers. It
can be assumed that there was considerable influence on
kosher food marketing on the US. The application to other
countries is less certain.
(C) 2005 Dr. Reuven Bruner. All Rights Reserved.
Contact him at: POB 1903, Jerusalem, 91314, Israel; Tel: (02)
652-7684; Mobile: 052 2865-821; Fax: (02) 652-7227; Email: