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Portion Sizes: Then and Now

Portion Sizes: My, How They Have Grown

Obesity rates may not be getting worse in the US, but they have remained alarmingly high for the past 10 years. Though some restaurants are posting calorie counts, and weight loss reality TV shows like The Biggest Loser and One Big Happy Family are increasingly popular, Americans continue to struggle with obesity.

In addition to living a more sedentary lifestyle (read desk jobs and more TV time), people also eat more because portion sizes have grown dramatically over the last 20 years. The difference is astounding calorie-wise. Take a look at the chart below, and you'll understand why the US is expanding.

Food Calorie Amount 20 Years Ago Calorie Amount Now
Two slices of cheese pizza 500 850
Cup of coffee 8 oz. coffee with cream and sugar, 97 16 oz. Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino, 380

To see the rest of the list, keep reading.

Food Calorie Amount 20 Years Ago Calorie Amount Now
Movie popcorn 1 small tub (5 cups), 470 1 small tub (7 cups), 630
Bagel 3-inch diameter, 140 Noah's plain bagel, 5- to 6-inch diameter, 350
Cheeseburger Made with 1.6 oz. patty, 333 Made with 8 oz. patty, 590
Cola 8 oz. bottle, 97 20 oz. bottle, 242
Blueberry muffin Homemade muffin, 264 Starbucks muffin, 360
Ice cream 1/2 cup vanilla, 220 1 cup Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough in a waffle cone, 393

Here are five ways to get your portion sizes under control.

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verily verily 7 years
Agreed, Spectra. I don't remember Starbucks existing at all until the Barnes and Nobles came to my town about 15 years ago. And the only bagels available were those wee Lender's bagels you get in the freezer case. Coffee culture I think brought the bigger bagels and muffins to the grocery stores.
Beaner Beaner 7 years
Yeah, portion sizes have grown, which is the point Fit is making. Most bagel places don't sell a teeny 3-inch diameter bagel.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
I agree that it isn't a totally fair comparison. You can still buy a 3 inch bagel instead of getting a 4-5 inch one. The reason that Fit is comparing an 8 ounce coffee to a Frappuccino is that 20 years ago, there WERE no Starbucks on every corner encouraging us to order froofy drinks all the time. I think a bigger problem than portion size is our culture of eating nonstop everywhere we go.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
Even if the comparisons aren't 100% spot-on, I don't think there's any denying Fit's general observation that portion sizes have increased dramatically. When I was a kid, we used the dishes my parents had purchased in the 80's, which involved the then-standard sized 8 oz. coffee cups and normal sized bowls. Now, most people drink out of oversized mugs that hold about 16 oz., and if you compare the size of the bowls most people have in their homes, they hold about twice as much as well. Also, a lot of people buy the jumbo cupcake/muffin pans instead of using the smaller ones.
filmgirl81 filmgirl81 7 years
I agree with most of the posters about not comparing apples to apples. However, I do enjoy large portions of food when I go out. This allows me to share a meal with someone else, or take half home. I like the value of it. Although I really wish dessert portions would be smaller.
deanna024 deanna024 7 years
For the ice cream category, if you double the plain vanilla's 220 calories for a half cup, you'll see that's way more than the 1 cup of Ben and Jerry's, which is at 393. So in reality, it appears while the portion size is larger, Ben and Jerry's ice cream is actually less calorie-dense.
snowdaytoday snowdaytoday 7 years
This is crazy!
snowdaytoday snowdaytoday 7 years
This is crazy!
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