Eliminating jumbo-sized portions could reduce the calories Americans consume by as much as 29%, according to findings from a study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. More than two thirds of American adults are classified as overweight, including almost 3 in 4 men. Thirty-five percent of overweight American adults—1 in 3—are classified as obese.
Obesity: Are Larger Portions to Blame?
In recent years, policymakers have looked to limit portion size in an attempt to fight obesity. In 2014, the New York State Court of Appeals rejected the city’s ban on sugary drinks served in containers larger than 16 ounces.
To assess the effects of larger portion sizes, researchers reviewed 72 studies of jumbo-sized products. The studies—conducted between 1978 and 2013—compared at least two groups of participants who were each presented with different portion sizes. Three of the studies investigated tobacco instead of food. The average age of participants in each individual study range from 3 to 55, with most studies involving adults rather than children.
Jumbo Portions May Not Be Only Problem
Though the latest study seems to support a link between jumbo sizes and overconsumption, researchers say the data in support of this conclusion is only moderate. Some of the studies relied on unclear or incomplete reporting methods. The studies of portion size that looked at tobacco consumption did not find a correlation between cigarette size and smoking.
- Grynbaum, M. M. (2014, June 26). New York’s ban on big sodas is rejected by final court. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/27/nyregion/city-loses-final-appeal-on-limiting-sales-of-large-sodas.html
- Hollands, G. J., Shemilt, I., Marteau, T. M., Jebb, S. A., Lewis, H. B., Wei, Y., Higgins, J. P., Ogilvie, D. (2015, September 14). Portion, package or tableware size for changing selection and consumption of food, alcohol and tobacco. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd011045
- Overweight and obesity statistics. (2012, October). Retrieved from http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/Pages/overweight-obesity-statistics.aspx
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