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Archive for the ‘ Food portion ’ Category

Holiday tip: mini-size it!

Here is my latest blog post for Huffington Post. You can also read it here.

Happy holidays!

Holiday tip: mini-size it!

Mini-size it! A great way—perhaps the best way—to cut calories is to trim your portion sizes. Especially of foods that are high in calories. That would include many treats you would find at holiday parties and events such as eggnog, specialty hot chocolates, fancy chocolates, and cakes. The good news about using portion control as a way to trim calories is that you do not have to entirely ban your favorite treats and traditional holiday foods. The key to success, especially during the holiday season is “moderation.” If you crave a fattening food, it is ok to treat yourself to a small serving.

A few healthy holiday tips:

  • If you are baking a pie for guests, try cutting it into 10-12 slices instead of 8 slices.
  • If you are baking holiday cookies, bake smaller ones.
  • Buy mini muffin pans so you have them handy so that you can bake mini muffins.
  • If you are cooking potato latkes for Chanukah, make smaller ones, and use less oil.
  • Eat off of smaller plates.
  • Drink out of smaller glasses. Sip wine, for example, out of a smaller wine glass when possible (if entertaining at home, for example) and limit refills. Liquid calories add up quickly.
  • Eyeball serving sizes using common visuals. Three ounces of meat look like a deck of cards, 1/4 cup nuts looks like a golf ball, and two tablespoons of salad dressing fills a shot glass.
  • Use your hand as a guide.  Stick with a portion of meat the size of your palm and your starch (potato or rice) should be around the size of your fist. (Of course healthy veggies, without dressing, can be consumed in generous portions.)

As the quote goes: “If you can half-it, you can have it.” Or, as I write in my book, The Portion Teller Plan, “What kind of sandwich isn’t fattening?: The answer: “a half sandwich.”

Happy holidays!

Enjoy family, friends, and of course moderate portions of your favorite foods.

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Growing portion sizes in the US: time for action

Below is my latest post for Huffington Post. I highlight key points from my latest academic paper on growing portion sizes.

The prevalence of overweight has increased in adults and children and shows no signs of decreasing. As I have previously written, large portions of unhealthy high caloric foods have indeed contributed to this problem.

In my latest paper, “Reducing Portion Sizes to Prevent Obesity: A Call to Action,” just published in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine with my NYU colleague Marion Nestle, we discuss recent portion-size trends and offer several suggestions to address the problem with ever expanding food portions.

Here are some key points:

Portion sizes have continued to increase through the first decade of the 21st century. Top fast-food and restaurant chains continue to introduce new large-size portions. Food companies are introducing bigger burgers, burritos, pizzas, and sandwiches. Some of these single-serving items (meaning, they are marketed for one person) contain more than 1,000 calories. For example, Wendy’s Baconator Triple burger contains approximately 1,300 calories and Burger King Triple Whopper contains 1,140 calories.

As we illustrate in our paper, the trend toward larger portions coincides with the availability of calories in the U.S. food supply and the rising prevalence of overweight and obesity.

The food industry has not responded to pleas from public health officials to reduce portions, and most Americans have become conditioned and have come to expect larger portions. So what can we do about this continued trend toward larger portions?

We offer several approaches:

1. Education and Public Health Campaigns
Health professional should continue to advise patients on portion control and healthy eating.

2. Consistent Serving Sizes
The FDA sets standards for food labels and the USDA sets standards for dietary guidance and education. These standards are smaller than typical portions, differ from one another and may be creating more confusion. One uniform system is needed to better advise the public on the relationship between portion size, calories and weight gain.

3. Price Incentives for Small Portions
The food environment must support healthier food choices and encourage consumers to want to buy the smaller size. One way to do that would be to offer price breaks for smaller-size portions. Our current price structure encourages us to supersize. We can often get twice as much food or drink for just a few cents. We need to reverse this trend
by making the smaller size financially appealing.

4. Portion Size Limits in Food-Service Establishments
Policy approaches to limit marketplace portions should be considered. A recent policy conceived by Mayor Bloomberg of New York City, and recently approved by the Board of Health to cap the sizes of sugary drinks to 16 ounces, will be implemented in March 2013. I have been an active advocate of this policy, have previously written for Huffington Post about it, and do hope other public health departments follow in New York City’s footsteps.

In your own life, I urge you to consider such portion size strategies. Whether it be ordering a small instead of a large size, sharing a restaurant entrée, advising others to eat less, or getting active in a health and portion campaign, small steps in encouraging our food environment to support healthier food choices can ultimately result in reversing our obesity epidemic.

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Portion Size Me

Portion Size Me is a book that came out earlier this year and was
written by Marshall Reid, a 12 year old and his mom Alexandra.  The book
captures the journey and lifestyle of  the Reids.  The family
transformed their lives by watching food portions and by modifying
their daily food choices.

As a portion size advocate and a nutritionist recommending small
lifestyle changes as a way to get healthy, this book gets thumbs up! It is very inspirational to help other overweight children and families make simple changes and help reverse the trend to curb childhood obesity.

Marshall and his family have learned to make small changes to diet and
to swap unhealthy foods for healthier ones.

As I have been saying for years, getting—and staying–healthy does not
mean giving up all our favorite foods!

For some of their ideas and recipes, visit their website:
http://portionsize.me/?page_id=2.

Congratulations Marshall! Well done.

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A “Better” Deal

The post below is guest post by nutritionist, author, and columnist Timi Gustafon, RD

A Better Deal

By Timi Gustafon, RD

I used to have a lot of memberships. Price Club, Costco, Sam’s Club, you name it. Living in the suburbs more than 20 miles away from the next major city, it made sense to buy in bulk and save money. As a family with growing teenagers (and many of their friends as regular house guests) plus three big dogs, we went through mountains of supplies in no time. So there seemed nothing wrong with stockpiling everything from toiletries to hardware goods to frozen foods to snacks. Making fewer shopping trips also helped to keep gas expenses down.

Of course, there were added costs for storage, especially for perishable items that needed refrigeration. A larger fridge and an additional freezer in the garage left their mark on the electricity bill, but still, we thought it was worth it.

What began to concern me more, especially as the kids went off to college and our needs for provisions lessened, was that our shopping habits had become so ingrained that we still tried for the “best deals,” even if it meant overstocking on items we didn’t really need, at least not right away and in such large quantities. Fortunately, we were not “hoarders” by nature and made soon the necessary adjustments. But it became clear to me how seductive the whole concept of “the more you buy, the more you save” really is.

The ability to buy in bulk, as smart as it may be as a strategy for some people and in certain situations, has been shown as a leading contributor to overconsumption that is now all too common in our society. “Overconsumption is as American as apple pie,” says a consumer report by Investopedia, a finance and investment advisory group, calling it a source of many negative financial and health consequences.

The report warns:

“More pressing than the financial problem is what increased consumption does to you and your family’s health. While using extra shampoo doesn’t exactly harm the environment in a way that is immediately noticeable, consuming more mayonnaise, peanut butter, cereal, frozen meals and other popular items available at the bulk stores will almost certainly affect your health in a way that you will be able to see in a full-length mirror.”

Dr. Lisa Young, a professor of nutrition at New York University and author of The Portion Teller, agrees with that assessment. Psychologically, she says, wholesale clubs like Costco compel members to buy more to recoup their membership fees and for the obvious reason of saving money in the long run. It encourages increase in consumption, which may be harmless with items like toilet paper but not a good idea when it comes to food. “The more you buy, the more you eat,” she says.

Some would argue that this shouldn’t be a foregone conclusion. Why would having a well-stocked refrigerator or pantry make us overeat, just because the food is there? Because it is much harder to judge our consumption volume than our food choices, says Dr. Brian Wansink, a professor of marketing and nutritional science at Cornell University and author of Mindless Eating — Why We Eat More Than We Think (Bantam Books 2006). In other words, even if we have the best intentions to eat more healthily, whether we get the servings right is still another matter.

Our consumption volume — how much food we actually eat — depends on many factors other than the need to still our hunger, Wansink argues. Package size, plate shape and a variety of other outside influences like lighting, sounds, social settings and many more environmental components play a significant role in our eating behavior, many of which affect us on a subconscious level.

Package and portion sizes especially can have a considerable impact. Container sizes can influence our consumption of snack foods like chips and popcorn or inedible products like shampoo and detergent. Stockpiled items are typically used up much faster than those in smaller supply. It’s just how we relate to the things we have at our disposal.

Can we counteract these trends that seem to be all too human? Sure we can, says Dr. Wansink. What’s important is to alter the environment in which detrimental behavior can take place. For some, this can mean to stay away from bulk purchases altogether. For others, solutions can be as simple as repackaging bulk food into single serving containers or plating more modest amounts. As people become increasingly aware of their existing tendencies, they can find ways to work around them until new (and better) habits form.

BIO for Timi: Timi Gustafson R.D. is a registered dietitian, newspaper columnist,
blogger and author of the book “The Healthy Diner – How to Eat Right and
Still Have Fun”®, which is available on her blog, “Food and Health with
Timi Gustafson R.D.” (http://www.timigustafson.com), and at amazon.com.
You can follow Timi on Twitter (http://twitter.com/TimiGustafsonRD) and on
Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/TimiGustafsonRD).

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Back to the Future: A Return to Smaller Beverage Sizes

Here is my latest blog post for Huffington Post.

New York City’s Board of Health recently approved Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to limit the sizes of sweetened beverages. The regulation restricts the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas and delis.

I published an opinion piece in support of the proposal for the New York Daily News.
My piece, “Smaller sodas, healthier lives” can be found herehttp://soc.li/GHG9r5G

As I write: “This campaign makes sense at a time when the debate about soaring medical costs has taken center stage in the presidential election. Obesity is estimated to cost $190 billion a year.… The mayor’s proposal does nothing more than swing the pendulum back in favor of more modest food portions.

Those portions have increased steadily over the years, so much so that we have grown accustomed to oversize portions and have come to expect them.

Portion sizes are now two to five times larger than they were in the 1950s.”

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Just how big have food portions become? The timeline below, which is based on my research in my book The Portion Teller Plan, highlights how our frame of reference has shifted.

Select Dates in the Supersizing of American Fountain Drinks

1954                        Burger King offers a 12-oz Small and 16-oz Large soda.

1955                        McDonald’s offers a 7-oz soda.

1961                        McDonald’s adds 12-oz soda.

1962                        McDonald’s adds 16-oz soda.

1973                        McDonald’s adds 21-oz soda.

1988                        McDonald’s introduces 32-oz Super-Size.

1989                        Wendy’s adds the Super Value Menu including Biggie

drinks.

1999                      McDonald’s introduces 42-oz Super-Size.
The 32-oz Super-Size is downgraded to Large.

2001                       Burger King introduces a 42-oz King soda.

2004                      McDonald’s phases out the 42-oz Super-Size.
The largest size is the 32-oz Large.

2006                      Wendy’s add the 42-oz Large size.

Wendy’s drops the term Biggie for its 32-oz soda, calling it Medium.

2007                       McDonald’s offers a promotion of the 42 oz Hugo (previously called Super Size).

2011                        KFC introduces the 64-oz Mega Jug.

2012                      According to company websites, the following sizes are now available:

McDonald’s: 12-oz Kids, 16-oz Small, 21-oz Medium, and 32-oz Large.

Burger King: 16-oz Value, 20-oz Small, 30-oz Medium, 40-oz Large.

KFC: 16-oz Small, 20-oz Medium, 30-oz Large, and 64-oz Mega Jug.

Wendy’s: 12-oz Kids, 16oz Value, 20-oz Small, 30-oz Medium, 40-oz Large.

As I wrote in the NY Daily News,  “Bloomberg is not banning the sale of soda. Nor is he telling consumers that they can’t drink soda. Rather, he is calling attention to how much is a reasonable amount to drink at a time. Sixteen ounces is certainly more than reasonable — a full pint of sugar water. Instead of viewing this as a ban, let’s see it as an attempt to reset the norm for how much soda truly constitutes an appropriate portion.

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It is now time to return to the more reasonable sizes of the past, when obesity rates were much lower. Given the health consequences and enormous cost of our obesity epidemic, restricting large sizes of unhealthy sugary beverages is an excellent place to begin.

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Rightsize your Plate and your Waist: 11 Portion Control Tips that Work

Below is my latest blog post for Huffington Post. You can also read it here.

Practicing portion control is one of the most difficult tasks facing anyone who eats out or even eats in these days. Look around you and everything is supersized. And not just fast- food. Bagels, muffins, steaks, even frozen dinners have grown in size. And of course we know about the big sodas. Mayor Bloomberg of New York City has proposed restricting the sale of sodas and other sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in many eateries, and the Board of Health is set to vote on the proposal in just over a week. Stay tuned.

I tracked the history of food portions increasing since the 20th century and found that portions are much much bigger than they were in the past, 2-5 times bigger to be exact. And so are people! No surprise. As I wrote in The Portion Teller Plan and in numerous articles, large portions contribute to weight gain because large portions contain more calories than small portions. Simple as it sounds, so many clients that I counsel don’t seem to apply logic to the equation. We know that if a 64-oz Mega Jug of soda is eight times bigger than a standard 100 calorie 8-oz soda, it should contain 8 times the calories. Yes, it contains 800 calories. Simple math?  Yes. But… if WE drink it, we think, how can a soda possibly have so many calories?

Our plates have increased, so have our mugs, glasses, and wine goblets. Our cabinets and  dishwashers are now larger to accommodate our satellite-sized dishes. And, car seats for our kids, who are now pudgier than ever, have also increased. And even caskets have become supersized!

Many of us don’t understand what a healthy portion size is, and for good reason. A pasta portion in a restaurant is easily 3 cups, and many steaks are at least a pound. That is much too much food. The problem is that we’ve gotten used to these jumbo portion sizes and we think that a “portion” is whatever is put in front of us. Getting used to normal sized portions is not an easy task.

Here are some tips:

Practice plate control. For starters, try eating off of plates your grandmother used. Next, change your expectation. Restaurants are in business to sell food, and lots of it. It is time to shift our perspective on what a reasonable amount of food is. If you use a smaller plate, you will probably begin to scale back on your portion.

Fill up on fruits and veggies. We want to scale back on our meat and potato portions and increase our intake of veggies. An easy trick is to fill half your plate with veggies. One quarter of your plate protein (meat, fish, poultry, tofu) and one quarter healthy starch (brown rice, quinoa, barley).

Limit liquid calories. You are better off eating—and chewing—your calories than drinking them. Somehow, when we drink our calories, we do not feel full and the calories we just guzzled down do not seem to register. So…we want more. Eat an orange instead of drinking the juice. And steer clear of empty soda calories—choose seltzer or water instead.

Buy single-servings. Steer clear of the jumbo bags of chips, cookies, and nuts sold at price warehouse clubs such as Costco. We all love a good bargain, but beware when it comes to buying food. While you may want to stock up on toilet paper or paper towels, when it comes to food, buy smaller servings. Single-serve bags of chips will really help you practice portion control while snacking.

Order a small. In many cases you have a choice between a small, medium, or large. Order the small size whenever possible. And don’t be fooled by the label; even a drink labeled small, for example, small can be big.

Avoid your triggers. If you can’t stop at one serving of chips, then don’t even start. Choose a treat you CAN control.

Don’t snack out of the bag. Read the food label, serve yourself one portion, and put the rest away. Practice this for chips, nuts, pretzels and other treats.

Don’t be fooled by health halos. Just because a food is labeled organic or trans fat free doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want. Calories are still calories.

Skip all-you-can-eat buffets. They may be a bargain for your pocketbook, but not for your health. If you must visit a buffet, do a full lap around the buffet before choosing your selection and wear tight fitting clothes (you’ll probably eat less.)

Share, share, and share. Restaurant portions are huge. Order one main dish and an extra veggie dish or salad and share both. And order one dessert for two or three people and you will still feel satisfied.

Eat like a Parisian. Eat slowly, savor your food, and enjoy your company.

Enjoy! Bon Appetit.

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Diet industry supports Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to limit oversized beverages.

Here is my latest post for Huffington Post.

You can also read it below.

One week before the Board of Health is schedule to vote on Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to limit the sizes of oversized drinks, Weight Watchers and other diet companies including The South Beach Diet, Jenny Craig and Bob Greene of The Best Life Diet are supporting the proposal.

I have previously written about my support for the proposal and also testified at the hearing.

As reported in the New York Times, David Burwick, the president of Weight Watchers North America said, “There’s been a lot of hand-wringing about obesity but very little action.”

As reported in Metro NY, Mayor Bloomberg said “As the size of sugary drinks has grown, so have our waistlines, and so have diabetes and heart disease.” And, Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley added that “In a city with large sizes of high-calorie snack foods and beverages at your fingertips around the clock, it is no wonder many New Yorkers struggle to maintain a healthy weight.”

I could not agree more!

Here are 5 good reasons:

1. Portion sizes have exploded in recent years.

2. Large portions contain more calories than small portions.

3. Large portions encourage us to eat more.

4. Large portions encourage us to underestimate how much we are eating.

5. Sugary sweetened beverages are empty calories and have no nutrition benefits to offer.
The Board of Health is scheduled to vote on the ban on Thursday, Sept. 13 and would go into effect six months after, on March 13.

Stay tuned!

Your thoughts?!

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Size Matters, at least in NYC!

This is an invited post I wrote for Huffington Post on Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban on soda sizes in NYC.   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-lisa-young/new-york-soda-ban_b_1563758.html

Feel free to take part in the debate: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/04/new-york-soda-ban_n_1567816.html?ref=healthy-livi

New York City Hopes to Ban Supersize Sugary Beverages

Oversized beverages, including 7-Eleven’s Big Gulp and just about all medium and large size beverages sold at fast-food establishments, may no longer be available to consumers in New York City if Mayor Bloomberg’s ambitious proposal to limit the portion sizes of sweetened beverages is passed by the city’s board of health in June. In fact, the “small” soda at McDonald’s may soon become the largest option available. And even Burger King’s 22-ounce “small” would be banned. According to the mayor, it is time for food eateries to start shaving down their portions.

The proposed ban would restrict the sale of sodas and other sugary drinks that are larger than 16 fluid ounces in food establishments such as restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas, delis, and street carts. It would include the popular 20-ounce soda bottle from the corner deli and, of course, oversized fountain drinks available in fast-food establishments and movie theaters. The ban would not affect diet drinks, fruit juice, dairy-based drinks such as milkshakes, or alcoholic beverages. Nor would it affect beverages sold in grocery stores.

It is no surprise that the beverage industry is up in arms about the proposal, and feels that the city’s department of health is unfairly singling out soda. Indeed, the ban would affect the sales of their product. According to the New York Times, the New York City Beverage Association criticized the city’s proposal:

“The New York City health department’s unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks is again pushing them over the top,” the industry spokesman, Stefan Friedman, said. “It’s time for serious health professionals to move on and seek solutions that are going to actually curb obesity.”

According to the New York City Department of Health, sugary, sweetened beverages are a major contributor to the current obesity epidemic both in New York City and in the rest of the country. In a phone interview, Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City’s health commissioner, indicated that the extra calories from sweetened beverages have indeed contributed substantially to rising obesity rates throughout our country.

This is not the first time the New York City Department of Health has tried to help us trim our portions. In January, they launched a portion-size education campaign — “Cut Your Portions. Cut Your Risk” — featuring ads on subways encouraging New Yorkers to trim their portions to reduce their risk of health problems. As I previously wrote, the city’s health department has been very proactive in fighting obesity and other public health issues.

So, what should we make of this new proposal to ban oversized sugary drinks?

This campaign makes sense at a time when food portions have increased and so have rates of obesity.

As a researcher tracking portion size trends, food portions have increased steadily over the years, and so have we. We have grown accustomed to oversized portions, and we have come to expect them. My research found that portion sizes are now two to five times larger than they were in the 1950s. When McDonald’s opened, for example, the only size soda available was 7 ounces. When Burger King first opened, the company offered a 12-ounce small and a 16-ounce large. Boy have we grown! Burger King’s small is now 22 ounces and its large is 42 ounces. I think it is time to return to those more reasonable sizes.

Large portions may contribute to obesity in several ways. Large portions contain more calories than small portions. For example, an 8-ounce soda contains 100 calories, while a 64-ounce Double Gulp without too much ice contains nearly 800 calories. Large portions also encourage us to consume more and to underestimate how much we are really eating. Sugar-sweetened beverages, in particular, provide no nutritional value whatsoever. As a registered dietitian counseling clients on healthy eating, I advise eating a small portion of foods low in nutritional value.

If food companies do not sell large sizes, consumers will not buy them. Of course, you can get around the ban by purchasing several drinks. Indeed, four 16-ounce sodas would amount to just one 64-ounce Double Gulp, but it’s going to cost a lot more money. And will consumers want to pay for them?

Part of the portion problem is that the current price structure encourages us to buy bigger sizes. All too often, the bigger the portions, the less we pay per ounce. At a local 7-Eleven, the cost of the smallest size available (20 ounces) is roughly five cents per ounce, but the largest size (64 ounces) goes down to just two cents per ounce. It is hard to resist such a bargain.

As an educator and clinician, I would absolutely continue to advocate for better education and public health campaigns. I would urge such campaigns to begin at home and continue in the schools for our children to receive training on nutrition and health — in particular, on the relationship between calories and portion sizes. But education has not proven to be the answer thus far. Research looking into the effectiveness of the posting calories on menu boards has not been very promising. The health department found that 15 percent of patrons improved their choices by looking at calorie counts on menu boards. Indeed, we need to take this a step further. And Mayor Bloomberg is taking action.

Given the health consequences and enormous cost of our country’s obesity epidemic, it is time to return eating less. And banning the large sizes of unhealthy sugar-sweetened beverages is a good place to begin. The city has unveiled other such public health campaigns, and it appears that they may actually be working. Smoking has declined and so have rates of childhood obesity in New York City. I applaud the health department for its efforts in fighting to improve the public health of New Yorkers and hope other health departments around the country follow New York’s lead.

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Will colored potato chips help us eat less?!

We are snacking now more than ever. So much that we eat, on average, 580 calories daily just from snacks. So what can we do about it?

A group of researchers have a novel idea. Offering subtle cues can help.  New research from Yale, University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University and published in the May issue of the Journal of Health Psychology suggests that inserting colored potato chips might help snackers actually eat less.

Researchers gave students one of two types of Stackable potato chips while they were watching a movie. One group was given a traditional stack of potato chips with no edible dividers. The other group was given a stack of chips with edible potato chips dyed red which served as dividers that were interspersed at several different intervals (and suggesting a serving to be from 5 to 14 chips.)

The researchers found was that inserting colored potato chips at regular intervals in the stacks caused people to eat fewer chips overall. The group given the red edible chips acting in a sense as dividers reduced their consumption by a whopping 50 percent! This translates into approximately 250 fewer calories according to Cornell researcher Dr. Brian Wansink.

Good news—It is time for the food industry to take note.

Or, better yet, just sell us smaller bags!

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Chocolate bars on a diet?!

Last week, Mars, Inc. announced it will stop shipping chocolate bars that “exceed 250 calories per portion by the end of 2013.” The company has made the pledge as part of an agreement with Michelle Obama’s Partnership for a Healthier America. Mars and 16 other manufacturers have pledged to reduce 1.5 trillion calories by the end of 2015 by offering lower-calorie options and reducing portion sizes.

Mars, Inc. writes on its website:

  • “We are committed to making sure the products we offer, and the ingredients they contain, can fit into a balanced diet – whether whole grain rice or a delicious Mars chocolate bar. We are also committed to marketing and selling our products in a responsible way.”

This sounds like good news considering that Mars makes some of the top-selling brands of chocolate products in the world including Snickers, M&Ms, 3 Musketeers, Mars, and Twix. And all of these products come in king size portions as well as the regular size portions.  Currently, the regular size Snickers bar has 280 calories, while the king size has 510 calories.

Most consumers—myself included–took the announcement to mean that the company will stop marketing chocolate bars with more than 250 calories. So would that mean an end to king size bars?

Wishful thinking. The issue surrounds the definition of what constitutes a “portion.” Is a portion a “piece” or “the entire contents of what is in the package”? Most people that I know would say the latter.  After all, the package is marketed as one portion for one person.

After reading the fine print on Mars’ website, here is what the company intends to do. They write:

  • “We have committed not to ship any chocolate products that exceed 250 calories per portion by the end of 2013. In many markets, we have replaced SNICKERS® King Size — one large chocolate bar — with two smaller bars. The new product is called the SNICKERS® Duo, in the U.K, for example. In the U.S., our “2toGo” bars are packed in memory wrappers that can be twisted to close, giving people the choice to save one portion for later.”

As reported succinctly in the LA Times, “…it means packaging will change: hefty King Size portions will be subdivided into smaller “2toGo” sub-portions, designed to make it easier to put one serving aside for later.”

Good luck with that. Are most people really going to put the other piece aside for later?!  Perhaps, but probably just in theory.

Here are my thoughts:

If Mars were to actually stop selling chocolate bars with more than 250 calories, it would be a step in the right direction. Even though a 250 calorie chocolate bar is too caloric, it would still mean  progress, given the high calorie count in some of today’s candy bars.

But the company still plans to sell chocolate candy with more than 250 calories in one package—they are just going to “package” the contents differently.

On the website for the new bar, here is how Mars describes  the new Snickers 2toGo:

  • “It’s two pieces in one Snickers 2toGo. Enjoy twice the roasted peanuts, nougat, caramel, and milk chocolate wrapped in one resealable twist wrap package.”

And the new “2toGo” sub-portioned Snickers package weighs in at 3.3 ounces and  contains 440 calories! Yikes. It also looks pretty big to me when compared to the regular size 2.1 ounce bar. [See photo.]

While the 2toGo bar is an improvement from the 510 calorie king-size bar, it is still too big and contains far too many calories, especially for a candy bar.   While Mars’ efforts are a small step in the right direction, how about doing away with jumbo candy bars altogether?! Instead of selling “2toGo” bars in one package, why not sell each individual 1.7 ounce–and 220 calorie—“portion” as its own individually wrapped candy bar. Now that would be real progress and the portion would actually contain fewer than 250 calories.

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