Susan Hart: The importance of food portion control

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Over 60% of the UK adult population is currently overweight or obese, and we all have a responsibility to reduce that statistic including fast food outlets, schools, supermarkets, cafes and food manufacturers.

Research has shown that when people are presented with larger portion sizes, they will eat more and most people underestimate how many calories they consume each day by as much as 25%.

Since the 1980s, typical servings have increased dramatically: a bag of crisps has grown from 25g to 40g.

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‘Big Eat’ bags have 50% more than standard bags – a bag of Walker’s crisps, for example, now contains 55g – that’s 290 calories and 18g of fat, compared to 130 cals and 8g of fat in 25g.

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Soft drinks are still sold in 330ml cans (139 cals for a can of Coke), but 500ml bottles of are just as popular (210 cals in a bottle of Coke).

King-size and pocket pack chocolate bars are up to twice the size of regular bars – a Mars Big One has 100 calories more than a regular bar, while a King-Sized Snickers has 200 extra calories than the regular version.

There are now even 1 and a half bars of chocolate and Bounty bars are available in triple packs!
Double and triple burgers (with all the extras) are available from every burger chain. If you double-up your cheeseburger in McDonald’s, for example, you increase your calories from 300 to 440, and your fat intake from 11.5g to 23 g.  Pasta servings and nearly five times bigger than they were 20 years ago.

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Ready meals have also ballooned over the past 15 years with products such as curry, cottage pies, pasta dishes and casseroles now weighing on average 400g nearly twice the size they were in the 1990s.
You’re not even safe in the local coffee shop – Your morning caffeine fix in the 50s would be 45 calories. Nowadays, a 16oz (450ml) takeout coffee with mocha syrup would be 350 calories.

And how many times are you asked if you want to ‘go large’?

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