FoodFacts.com does our best to stay on top of the news regarding the obesity epidemic that’s become such a concern – not only for our own country, but countries around the world. Every new research study that’s published that brings a greater understanding of how and why we’ve become so prone to weight gain offers valuable insights into how the problem can be corrected. We are confident that this will lead to healthier lives for our population.
Today we found new information out of the University of New South Wales, Australia regarding the effects of larger serving sizes on our eating habits. It appears that people who were taught how to engage in mindful (as opposed to mindless) eating were still prone to eat much more food than those who were presented with smaller serving sizes who were not educated at all in regards to mindful eating.
The study included 96 female participants and is the first to examine how educating people about mindful eating would affect eating habits. The women were randomly selected to be served one of two portion sizes of macaroni with tomato sauce for lunch. The large portion was 600 grams and the smaller portion was 350 grams.
Half of the women in each group were given information regarding mindful eating – a brochure about how external factors, including portion size, social and cultural influences, advertising and mood can contribute to overeating. They were asked to write about how these factors may have affected their own eating habits in the past. They were then taught how to concentrate on internal sensations like hunger and fullness, in addition to the flavor of the foods they consume before they were given their lunch.
As it turns out, the women who were served a larger portion size consumed about a third more pasta than those served the smaller portion size. The exercises some of the women engaged in regarding mindful eating did not affect their consumption. Participants in the larger portion group consumed 87 more calories than those presented with the smaller serving of pasta.
Experts believe that portion sizes both at home and in restaurants have contributed to the obesity epidemic. Portion sizes have increased considerably at the same time that obesity rates have risen. In addition, hunger and taste are felt to have little to do with our increased levels of food consumption.
FoodFacts.com feels that this study makes a great deal of sense. We live in a “super-sized” society, where the concept of more is better has embedded itself in our eating habits. Every day we are presented with extra-large cups of coffee, quarter-pound burgers, 16 ounce steaks, 32 ounce sodas, large-sized fries … the list can go on and on. We don’t view our portion sizes realistically because our view of a normal serving size has been altered. And we eat most of what we see placed before us. So if the portion is that much bigger – even if we aren’t cleaning our plates – we’re still consuming more than is considered healthy. Perhaps if we can all stay more aware of those larger portions, we can make the healthier choice. Perhaps in today’s society, we shouldn’t be encouraging anyone to become a member of the clean plate club. Food for thought.