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Archive for the ‘ Super Size Me ’ Category

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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McDonald’s Japan beefing up portions!

McDonald’s Japan is beefing up portions!

Americans are fat enough. And McDonald’s certainly hasn’t helped the situation by offering jumbo portions of cheap unhealthy foods. Yes—the company did away with its 42 oz “Supersize” soda after the movie Super Size Me debuted in 2004 (I made an appearance discussing growing portion sizes in the US.) The largest soda today is a 32-oz quart, called “Large.” (This 32-oz “Large”, by the way, was the same size of the original “Supersize” when first marketed in 1988.) As I wrote in The Portion Teller Plan, and in several academic papers with my NYU colleague Dr Marion Nestle, today’s Large is nearly 5 times the original size soda, which was a mere 7 oz (no where to be found today), when McDonald’s opened in the 1950s.

Well now, McDonald’s Japan is beginning to supersize some of its menu offerings. As reported in the Wall Street Journal last week, in an effort to boost sagging sales, McDonald’s Japan is introducing the “Big America2” series menu featuring several jumbo burgers named after US locales. The Idaho burger—containing beef, cheese, bacon, deep fried hash browns– set to debut at the end of January will contain more than 700 calories! McDonald’s is hoping it’s calorie laden burgers will be good for business.  As the authors Mariko Sanchanta and Yoree Koh write: “McDonald’s is banking on oversized burgers stuffed with nachos, hash browns or chili.”  And the company is going to use twitter and bloggers to spread the word.

Obesity rates in Japan are currently much lower than they are in the US. Pretty soon, however, if McDonald’s Japan supersizes its other menu offerings, the Japanese may become supersized like us. Hopefully not.

Here’s a healthful tip: When in Japan, choose sushi, veggies, and brown rice!!

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