July - September 2010 Edition: Naples Health

20 YEARS AGO ... Portion sizes were less than half what they are today.

Then... 320 calories

Then... 140 calories

Now... 820 calories

Now... 350 calories

Mindless consumption Fast food restaurants are often fingered as the culprits who started us down this heavy road, and anyone who still remem- bers the size of the hamburgers first sold by such chains as McDonald’s can verify that portions at these establishments have grown consistently bigger. What these restaurants offered (and continue to offer) was inexpensive, consistent food served up quickly. The latter is a key ingredient. As people’s lives got busier, finding cheap and fast ways to get through meals became more and more attrac- tive. The high fat content made the food taste good, and the consistent quality meant you got what you expected. “I think sometimes we’re not paying attention when we eat,” McElligott says. “We eat quickly in this country. If we eat slower, we might enjoy our food a little more. I think there’s a place for everything. But some people eat at fast food restau- rants three times a day.” She adds that it’s not only portion sizes that have grown. So have the plates, bowls and cups in which they’re served. “Twenty years ago, coffee came in an eight-ounce cup,” she notes. “Even if it was served with cream and sugar, it had only about 45 calories. Today, you get a 16-ounce mocha coffee with steamed milk and syrup, and you’re getting 350 calories.” McElligott’s observations are confirmed by a Centers for Dis- ease Control (CDC) report on eating as an automatic behavior. That 2008 report detailed how unconsciously people tend to eat. One research study cited showed that 43 percent of people

Twenty years ago, the typical bagel measured three inches in diameter and contained 140 calories. Today, that bagel is likely to be six inches in diameter—and carry 350 calo- ries. Similarly, the usual restaurant serving of spaghetti and meatballs used to be a 500-calorie combination of one cup of spaghetti with sauce and three small meatballs. Today, the average consists of twice the amount of pasta and three large meatballs, delivering a whopping 1,025 calories. Even the seemingly heart-healthy and diet-friendly turkey sandwich has undergone a drastic makeover. Twenty years ago, it was served with lettuce and tomato on two slices of bread and had 320 calories. Today, it’s likely to be served on a sub roll and drag- ging along 820 calories. Given such changes, it’s not surprising that the United States is facing an obesity epidemic. According to Learning ZoneX- press, an online resource for nutrition education, 61 percent of Americans are overweight, and the number of overweight people in the world—1.1 billion—now equals the number of undernourished people. “It’s horrifying when you think about where we were 20 years ago, when the obesity epidemic started,” says Mary McElligott, diabetes program coordinator at the von Arx Diabetes Center of Excellence and Nutritional Health. “You look at research that’s being done and you can see the correlation between what used to be considered a normal portion and how that’s grown now. That’s a problem. We’re also not as active as we used to be, we’re not feeling as full with what we eat today, and we’re eating too many of the wrong kinds of food.”

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JULY-SEPTEMBER 2010 | Naples Health

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