Eating Out? Take Some Home
For Weight Control, Take-Out Box Is Your Friend
March 26, 2004 -- The take-home box: It's your best defense
against the huge portions we're served today. That's the message from a group
of weight control researchers.
"You can't rely on somebody else to put the right amount of
food on your plate, in your sandwich, or in your snack pack," says lead
researcher Barbara Rolls, PhD, chairwoman of nutrition at Penn State's College
of Health and Human Development, in a news release.
And you sure can't depend on your appetite; it won't put
the breaks on eating, Rolls' studies show. People often don't notice they're
getting more food, even if they get a double order -- hence the nation's weight
Her research group looked closely at this issue: the effects of
portion size on people's food intake. They found, just as you would imagine,
that most people eat everything that is put in front of them.
The Ziti Study
In a cafeteria-style restaurant, on different days, servers
gave the 180 customers either a standard or 50% bigger portion of a ziti pasta
entrée (the price was unchanged). The meal came with a pesto-stuffed tomato,
roll, and butter.
Customers were also asked to complete a "satisfaction
Those served the bigger portion ate nearly all of it - an
average of 172 more calories than the standard meal. But they didn't eat more
of the tomato, roll, and butter.
Whether they ate a normal-size or oversized meal, most reported
that the size of the meal was appropriate. Only underweight and normal-weight
people who purchased the larger meals rated their meals closer to being too
large. The overweight customers rated both portions as equally OK in size. The
extra food they ate didn't register as a problem. Weight control didn't factor
into their intake.
That study appears in Obesity Research.
The Submarine Study
In this experiment, 75 young men and women were offered sub
sandwiches -- 6, 8, 10, and 12 inches long -- on different days.
When served the largest sandwich, women ate an extra 159
calories or 31% more calories; men ate 355 extra calories, or 56% more.
That study appears in the Journal of the American Dietetic
The Snack Study
This time, Rolls gave packaged potato chips to 60 men and women
to eat during a day's time. Each package contained a different amount of
No surprise: If people had lots of chips, they ate lots of
chips: The women ate an average 184 more calories and men ate about 311 extra
calories. They also ate more for dinner later, too, reports Rolls.
This study appears in the journal Appetite.
"These studies show that for a variety of different foods,
large portions lead to increased calorie intake," says Rolls.
Just say no: Eat less, share your food, and set some aside to
take home, she advises. It's a big step toward weight control.