Obesity in the United States is is common, serious, and costly. According to the Center for Disease Control, the prevalence of obesity was 39.8% and affected about 93.3 million of US adults in 2015-2016. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer that are some of the leading causes of preventable, premature death.
Obesity is costly. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States is more than $147 billion per year; the medical cost for people who have obesity was $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.
In the past few years, restaurant portions have gotten larger with meals becoming “supersized,” despite the fact your body does not need or require the extra calories. And it’s not just restaurats. Grocery stores and vending machines now offer “individual” bag of chips that can easily feed more than one. The National Institute of Health noted that larger portions contribute to obesity. Here are some tips from the Department of Health and Human Services to help you avoid some common portion-size pitfalls:
- Portion control when eating out. Many restaurants serve more food than one person needs at one meal. Take control of the amount of food that ends up on your plate by splitting an entrée with a friend. Or, ask the waitperson for a “to-go” box and wrap up half your meal as soon as it’s brought to the table.
- Portion control when eating in. To minimize the temptation of second and third helpings when eating at home, serve the food on individual plates, instead of putting the serving dishes on the table. Keeping the excess food out of reach may discourage overeating.
- Portion control in front of the TV. When eating or snacking in front of the TV, put the amount that you plan to eat into a bowl or container instead of eating straight from the package. It’s easy to overeat when your attention is focused on something else.
- Go ahead, spoil your dinner. We learned as children not to snack before a meal for fear of “spoiling our dinner.” Well, it’s time to forget that old rule. If you feel hungry between meals, eat a healthy snack, like a piece of fruit or small salad, to avoid overeating during your next meal.
- Be aware of large packages. For some reason, the larger the package, the more people consume from it without realizing it. To minimize this effect, divide up the contents of one large package into several smaller containers to help avoid over-consumption. Avoid eating straight from the package. Instead, serve the food in a small bowl or container.
- Out of sight, out of mind. People tend to consume more when they have easy access to food. Make your home a “portion friendly zone. Replace the candy dish with a fruit bowl and store especially tempting foods, like cookies, chips, or ice cream, out of immediate eyesight, like on a high shelf or at the back of the freezer. Move the healthier food to the front at eye level.
- When buying in bulk, store the excess in a place that’s not convenient to get to, such as a high cabinet or at the back of the pantry.
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.