note: The preceding column was brought to you on behalf of Health 1st.
Striving to bring various topics and representing numerous employee
wellness organizations and committees on campus, this weekly column
seeks to provide MUSC, MUHA and UMA employees with current and helpful
information concerning all aspects of health.
Oct. 21st Wellness Wednesday will take place from 10 a.m. to 1
p.m. in the Children’s Hospital lobby and will focus on: proper
portion sizes for reducing the tendency to overeat; Healthy Lung Month;
Physical Therapy Month; Breast Cancer Awareness Month; and free chair
massages (sign up when you come, first come, first serve).
by Dana Mitchel and Rebekah Feemster
MUSC Dietetic Interns
Today, the U.S. food supply provides 500 more calories a day per person
than it did in the 1970s. The average portion sizes of food items have
increased dramatically during the last several decades. Twenty years
ago, a typical cheeseburger contained 333 calories. Now it’s
normal for American’s to run through the drive-thru of any fast food
restaurant and pick-up a cheeseburger with about 590 calories.
Then and now portion size comparisons
Pizza (2 slices) 500 kcal 850 kcal
Spaghetti 500 kcal 1,025 kcal
210 kcal 500 kcal
Movie popcorn 270 kcal 630 kcal
85 kcal 250 kcal
140 kcal 350 kcal
French Fries 210 kcal 610 kcal
Why have the portions increased? It may be attributed to
packaging, increased popularity of eating out, or need to get more for
your hard earned dollar. Whatever the reason, increased portion size
parallels the increase in the average body mass index of our country.
Weight gain is directly related to how many calories a person consumes.
If a person eats more calories than their body uses during the day,
they will gain weight. If they expend more energy than the calories
they eat, they will lose weight. Simple, huh? As short-term studies
show, the danger is that people presented with larger portion sizes
will indeed eat more.
The increasing number of restaurants across the country contributes to
our exposure to large portion sizes, as people strive for speed and
convenience. However, the danger comes not only from the diner, but
from our own kitchens as well. Our eyes have been trained to “eyeball”
portions of homemade items much larger than the actual portion.
Also, prepackaged items come in portion sizes that really contain two
to three servings. When we formulate our dinner plate it is based on
the portion of the package as well as our own over-estimate of a
What can be done? Learn to recognize proper portion sizes of different
food groups. Certain amounts can be associated with common household
items—such as 3 ounces of meat is about the size of a deck of cards and
one cup is about the size of a baseball. Such comparisons will help you
control the amount of calories you consume, in turn controlling your
weight, resulting in a happier, healthier, and longer life!
For information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/nutrition/pdf/portion_size_research.pdf; http://www.snackertracker.com/TrackerTips.aspx; http://lancaster.unl.edu/food/PortnDis.pdf or http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1447051.
Friday, Oct. 16, 2009