Fast food restaurants aren’t the only ones to blame for super-sized Americans. New research from the University of North Carolina shows that Americans are eating larger portions at home as well.
The research, published in the current Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at such foods as hamburgers, burritos, tacos, French fries, sodas, ice cream, pie, cookies and salty snacks. It found that the portions got bigger between the 1970s and the 1990s, regardless of whether people ate in or out.
“We’re getting so used to these big portion sizes when we eat out that when we go home we forget what a normal portion is,” Margo Wootan, policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in a release.
From the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, food portions in America grew by around 60 percent, and diets contained more unhealthy, salty foods, MSNBC.com reported.
As Americans have increased their portions, they have also increased their body weight.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 44 million Americans were considered obese in 2001.
Barry Popkin, co-author of the University of North Carolina study, said that when combined with less physical activity than in decades past, bigger portions and unhealthier diets translate into greater risks for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other health threats.
The study also found that the average portion of salty snacks grew by 60 percent, or 93 calories, in the past two decades. Soft drink sizes expanded by 50 percent, or 49 calories; hamburger portions grew by 23 percent, or 97 calories; and French fry portions grew by 16 percent, or 68 calories.
So what is a proper serving size?
Two to three ounces of cooked lean meat constitutes a serving, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The USDA suggests between 1,600 and 2,800 calories per day depending on a person’s age, gender and activity level, Associated Press reported.
Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications director.