Monday, June 05, 2006

Supersize No More - Smaller is Better!


One major element of the American cultural mindset is the quasi-obsession for (large) sizes and numbers.
When you come to think of it, it does make sense in a country where everything is big(ger) than everywhere else. What is certain is that most of the time, quantity is more important than quality.
This is particularly true in restaurants. Most Americans tend to feel cheated if they are not served big quantities. The idea is that you must have it worth your money. Small quantities look cheap in the “land of plenty”.

It has always been a distinct feature of American life but things have gone really out of hands in the last 20 years. For instance, your regular Mrs Fields cookies have tripled in size while the traditional (smaller-size) cookies are now sold by the dozen. It is even worse in restaurants where it has become impossible (for me anyway) to finish your plate without feeling sick. The regular appetizers are as big as the main course from years ago. Now of course, you can always take your leftovers in a “doggie bag” but in the end you tend to eat more than you want and certainly more than you should, especially if you were taught to finish your plate.

Now if you like numbers, here are impressive ones:

Today, 64% of Americans are overweight, including the 30 % who are obese, according to the report. It pegs the annual medical cost of the problem at nearly $93 billion. (Wash. Post)

The funny thing is that it took so long to make it to an FDA funded study and to be addressed by (some of) the media. The report, funded by the Food and Drug Administration, recommends that one of the first things to do is to cut portion sizes in restaurants. Wow, all that for that! So I guess I could have written that report myself. Don’t get your hopes too high though:

The National Restaurant Association said the report, which it helped prepare but does not support, unfairly targeted its industry.

I guess there is too much money involved for any change to happen any time soon. It is not just the restaurants, but the entire food industry and even the para-medical profession that live off a nation of overweight people.

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