Large but not even close to being in charge - food & drink portions.

February 11, 2017

With a heavy heart it's my obligation (as an American) to report the precipitous decline of our great nation.  It is not enough that Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook & Tesla call the United States home.  It's not enough that the United States has & always will dominate football, baseball, NASCAR & professional wrestling.  It is not enough that our country gave birth to Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Oprah, Venus Williams & President Obama.  Whether it's cars, houses, roads, fast food restaurants, big budget movies, reality tv shows, etc. we know how to "go big".

 

Don't scoff at obesity.

 

I always assumed that the U.S. had more obesity than any other country. Well either accept it or do something about it because we are light years away from world obesity dominance.  The WHO defines obesity as a BMI of at least 30.  In the United States 33.6% of the population is obese.  You may not want to retire to a desert island.  Obesity runs rampant in desertous countries such as Kuwait (32.1%) & Qatar (34%).  It's even worse in Pacific island nations or territories: Marshall Islands (38%), Samoa (39.2%), Tonga (40.5%), Palau (45.4%), Nauru (46%) & finally Cook Islands (48.6%).

 

Big Agriculture = Big Business = Big Calories = Big Americans

 

All kidding aside obesity is a problem that plagues most of the world. There are many reasons that explain the prevalence of obesity in the United States.  Agriculture has been heavily subsidized since the 1850's. Depression era farm stimulus programs as well as The Agricultural Act of 1948 have  paid farmers to produce large volumes of food especially corn & soybeans.  Today farmers receive 20 billion dollars in subsidies annually. As a result food (especially processed food) is relatively cheap. In 2012 the average American spent $2,273 or 6.4% of his or her total income on food.  That's less money than the average person in 83 countries spent on food in 2012. 

 

Of course it's not that simple.  There's a huge disparity when it comes to income level. In 2013 low income Americans spent 36% of their income on food compared to only 8% for high income Americans. 

 

You better know your calories because your calories know you.

 

Across the board our food & drink serving sizes have increased markedly. Bigger means more calories.  A bagel twenty years ago delivered 140 calories.  A bagel today has 350 calories.  Ouch!  Who doesn't like a good muffin?  The question is do you like the 210 calorie muffin of 20 years ago or today's muffin with 500 calories?  This same narrative plays out time...after time...after time.  French fries have tripled in size & calories over the last 20 years (210 calories to 610 calories).  Finally remember the good old days (20 years ago) when 2 slices of pizza came with only 500 calories?  Your'e getting 850 pizza calories now.

 

Unfortunately Americans only supersize unhealthy foods.  When was the last time you super sized your broccoli order?  Our plates are getting bigger too.  1960's plates were in 9 inches in diameter.  1980's plates were 10 inches.  By 2000 we were living large with 11 inch plates in full effect.  Go measure all of your plates twice, it's essential that you're eating off today's regulation 12 inch plates.  

 

"The meal is not over when I'm full.  The meal is over when I hate myself."

Louis C.K.

 

In 1957 Paul Siegel, a psychologist at the University of Alabama, coined the term "completion compulsion".  If we start eating something, there's a good chance that we'll finish it.  If you buy a large popcorn at the movies, most likely you will finish it.  It doesn't matter if it tastes good or if you're feeling sated.  Your brain will go into seek & destroy mode & complete the mission.  If you use a spoon instead of an ice cream scooper, there's a good chance you'll eat more ice cream.

 

For good measure.

 

It's always a good idea to measure what you eat & drink.  One reason is that when we don't measure the things that we consume, we do a poor job of estimating serving sizes & calories.  In 2013 a study was conducted in Britain.  140 British adults were asked to pour a serving of cornflakes into a bowl.  The British  serving size of cornflakes is 30 grams.  88% of the participants poured over 30 grams of cornflakes into their bowls. In fact these Brits poured an average of 44 grams of cornflakes into their bowls.  That's almost 50% more than the serving size! The bottom line is that it always pays to be an informed & mindful eater.  Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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