Question posted: Friday, August 22, 2008
To Dr. Paul Cribb Ph.D. CSCS.
AST Director of Research Q:
Hey Paul, I just got back from Europe and I can't believe the difference in portion size of the meals they serve over there compared to back home here in the United States, even within the same restaurant franchise. I just wanted to check with you to see if these differences are for real, or just in my head, thanksA:
I think you’re right on the money there. And, there’s research to support your observation. For example, one study compared the size of restaurant meals, single-serve foods and cookbook portions on both sides of the Atlantic.
Results of this research revealed that food portions are significantly smaller in European restaurants and supermarkets than in their American counterparts. One of the most interesting comparisons was between two Hard Rock Café franchises, one in Paris and the other in Philadelphia, in the U.S. The meal servings in the American cafe were up to three-times the Parisian meal portions!
Three other international restaurant chains also consistently served larger portions in their American restaurants as compared to their establishments in Europe. In America, Chinese restaurants served meals that were on average 72% heftier than those served by Chinese restaurants in Paris.
An examination of foods sold in supermarkets in both countries revealed nearly all items were larger in American stores. For example, a candy bar sold in Philadelphia was 41% larger than the same product in Paris, a soda was 52% larger, a hot dog was 63% larger and a carton of yoghurt was 82% larger than seen in French stores.
Many studies have shown that if food is palatable, people tend to consume all that is put in front of them. Much of the discussion regarding the 'obesity epidemic' that has hit America has focused on personal willpower, but this study revealed that the environment also plays an important role. Additionally, this study showed that people may be satisfied even if served less than they would normally eat.
While the French eat more fat than Americans, they probably eat slightly fewer calories. When compounded over years this may amount to substantial differences in weight. For people that tend to struggle with fat loss, manipulating meal portions may be the most effective way to get results. Reducing the meal size while increasing meal frequency appears to be a sure fire way towards maintaining a lean physique.http://www.ast-ss.com/dev/qa_search/full_text.asp?ID=3450