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Super-sized Portions Equal Super-sized People

Getting more for your money could be detrimental to your health, according to a new report by the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity.

The report, From Wallet to Waistline: The Hidden Costs of Super Sizing, showed that “value marketing” encourages overeating and “contributes to the skyrocketing rates of obesity in adults and children.”<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in a release that Americans are “constantly induced to spend a little more money to get a lot more food. Getting more for your money is ingrained in the American psyche.”
 
But bigger is rarely better when it comes to food, Wootan said.
 
From Wallet to Waistline compares the price, calories and saturated fat in the various sizes of foods from fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, ice cream parlors, coffee shops and movie theaters.
 
Among the findings:
 

  • Upgrading from a three-ounce Minibon to a Classic Cinnabon costs only 24 percent more, yet delivers 123 percent more calories and nearly three-quarters of a day’s saturated fat.
  • Switching from a 7-Eleven Gulp to a Double Gulp costs only 37 cents more, but provides 300 percent more calories.
  • It is 8 cents cheaper to buy a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese large Extra Value Meal (1,380 calories) than it is to buy a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese, small French fries and small Coke (890 calories) separately. Wootan said McDonald’s actually “charges customers more to buy a smaller, lower-calorie meal.”
  • Choosing a medium bag of popcorn at the movies, rather than the small, only costs about 70 cents more, but adds 500 calories. “A 23% increase in price provides 125% more calories and two days’ worth of saturated fat (and that’s unbuttered popcorn!),” according to the report.

The report showed that as portion sizes have increased over the past 20 years, so has the prevalence of obesity among American adults and children.
 
Between 1990 and 2000, obesity rates in adults rose by 60 percent. The childhood obesity rate has doubled over the last 20 years.
 
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, Americans’ average daily caloric intake rose from 1,876 kcal to 2,043 kcal from 1978 to 1995. “That 167-calorie-per-day increase theoretically works out to an extra 17 pounds of body fat every year,” according to the report.
 
“If you walked into a McDonald’s in the 1950s and ordered a burger, fries and a 12-ounce coke, you’d have bought a meal with about 590 calories,” Carol Tucker Foreman, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America, said in a release. “Today a popular super-sized meal may contain 1,000 calories more. As a result, we’re super sizing our kids and super sizing ourselves.”
 
The report offers some advice to consumers:
 
·         Order the small or share with a friend
·         Ask for nutrition information
·         Order healthier menu items and side dishes such as salads or yogurt parfaits
·         Request healthy changes to existing menu items such as ordering coffee with low-fat milk or a sandwich without mayonnaise
 
<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Jodi Mathews is communications director for EthicsDaily.com.

For more information about the From Wallet to Waistline report, visit www.cspinet.org.