July - September 2010 Edition: Naples Health

EYEBALL IT Use these standard items to determine healthy portion size.

1 bagel or roll = 6 oz. can tuna

1 medium fresh fruit = tennis ball

1 tsp. oil = quarter in diameter

3 oz. meat = deck of cards

1 cup raw vegetables = light bulb

who were served a baked pasta dish that was 50 percent larger than normal ate more without realizing it. Another study showed that people will eat more, given the opportunity, even if the food doesn’t taste good. People at a movie theater were given popcorn in boxes twice the nor- mal size—but the popcorn was 14 days old. Although they complained about the taste, they still ate 34 percent more than people given stale popcorn in normal-sized boxes. “Most of the time, we’re eating because we’re programmed to,” says McElligott. “And we have this idea of value—‘I have to eat it, I paid for it.’”

the obesity epidemic during the last 20 years could have been caused by adding only 100 to 150 calories a day—an amount that adds up to an extra 10 pounds at the end of a year, if those calories aren’t used through increased activity. Labeling the problem Restaurants aren’t the only places where mindless consump- tion takes place. Grocery stores have long been aware that the shelf space and positioning of items have impacts on how well they sell. As the CDC report points out, when the amount of shelf space is doubled, sales of that item increase about 40 percent—regardless of whether it has been previously popular or not. Similar increases are seen when items are positioned at eye level or placed at the ends of aisles or in special displays. There’s more to be concerned about at the grocery store than positioning, though. The labels on packaged foods can easily mislead people into thinking they are consuming far fewer calories than they actually are. Lay’s Cheddar & Sour Cream chips, for example, proudly pro- claims “0 grams of trans fat” on the front of its package, mak- ing it seem a healthy choice. The nutritional label on the back advises that one serving has 160 calories—not too bad until you also notice that one serving is equal to about 15 chips. The 10.5-ounce bag contains approximately 11 servings. So if you polish off the bag while watching TV, you’re consuming 1,760 calories. Or take a look at an 18.4-ounce bag of peanut butter M&Ms. A clearly visible, bright green box lets you know “what’s inside: 240 calories, 15 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 20 grams of sugar and 90 milligrams of sodium.” What this handy panel doesn’t include is the information that these numbers are all based on a single serving—about a quarter of a cup. The entire bag has about a dozen servings. When you do the math, the numbers become alarming.

“Sometimes we’re not paying attention to what we eat. We eat quickly in this country. If we eat slower, we might enjoy our food a little more.”

Another factor is the ease and availability of food. The CDC report cited a study where bite-size chocolates were placed either on employees’ desks or on a shelf a short distance away. Those who had the chocolates on their desks consumed an average of 5.6 more candies than those who had to get up and walk to them. The report adds that the median weight gain in

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Naples Health | JULY-SEPTEMBER 2010

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