Skip to comments.Report: Restaurants should shrink portions (per FDA commissioned study, too many calories)
Posted on 06/01/2006 4:44:14 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
WASHINGTON - In the fight against obesity, restaurants should shrink portions, provide more nutritional information and bundle such calorie-laden food as burgers and pizza with healthier side dishes, according to a federally commissioned report to be made public Friday.
The report, requested and funded by the Food and Drug Administration, lays out ways to help consumers manage their intake of calories from restaurants, cafeterias and ready-to-eat meals bought at grocery stores. It does not address school meals.
"As of this decade, Americans are eating away-from-home foods more frequently and consuming more calories from away-from-home establishments than ever before," the report says in making the case for increasing the availability of foods and drinks packed with fewer calories but more nutrients.
The 136-page report prepared by The Keystone Center, a nonprofit policy group, does not explicitly link dining out with the rising tide of obesity, but it does cite numerous studies that suggest there is a connection. It also notes that Americans now consume fully one-third of their daily intake of calories outside the home. And as of 2000, the average American gobbled up and slurped down 300 more calories a day than was the case 15 years earlier, according to Agriculture Department statistics cited in the report.
Today, 64 percent of Americans are overweight, including the 30 percent who are obese, according to the report. It pegs the annual medical cost of the problem at nearly $93 billion.
Consumer advocates increasingly have heaped some of the blame on restaurant chains such as McDonald's. A new children's book and soon-to-be-released movie, both associated with the 2001 book "Fast Food Nation," have kept the issue at the fore.
In response, McDonald's has added entree-sized salads and the option to swap the fries and soft drink in children's meals for apple slices and juice. But when Americans dined out in 2005, the top three menu choices remained hamburgers, french fries and pizza, according to The NPD Group, a market research firm.
Still, restaurants increasingly are offering varied portion sizes, foods made with whole grains, more diet drinks and entree salads to fit the dietary needs of their customers, said Sheila Cohn, director of nutrition policy for the National Restaurant Association. But those restaurants can't make people eat what they don't want to, said Cohn, who contributed to the forum that produced the report. Other participants included government officials, academics and consumer advocates.
"It's really difficult for a restaurant to gauge what a person should be eating. Can you imagine going into a restaurant and the waiter saying, 'Sir, your pants look a little tight today. I have to bring you the fresh fruit plate rather than the chocolate cake for desert'" Cohn said, adding: "It's not really the responsibility of restaurants to restrict the foods that they offer."
The report encourages restaurants to shift the emphasis of their marketing to lower-calorie choices and include more of those options on menus. In addition, restaurants could jigger portion sizes and the variety of foods available in mixed dishes to reduce the overall number of calories taken in by diners.
Bundling meals with more fruits and vegetables also could improve nutrition. And letting consumers know how many calories are contained in a meal also could guide the choices they make, according to the report. Just over half of the nation's 287 largest restaurant chains now make at least some nutrition information available, said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
"If companies don't tell them, people have no way of knowing how many calories they are being served at restaurants. And chances are, they are being served a lot more than they realize," said Wootan, adding that Congress should give the FDA the authority to require such disclosure.
But the report notes that the laboratory work needed to calculate the calorie content of a menu item can cost $100, or anywhere from $11,500 to $46,000 to analyze an entire menu. Cohn said that makes it unfeasible for restaurants, especially when menus can change daily.
An FDA spokesman declined to make agency officials available to discuss the report ahead of a news conference scheduled for Friday.
Representatives of four restaurant chains including Yum! Brands, the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell who contributed to the report did not return calls seeking comment.
On the Net:
Food and Drug Administration: http://www.fda.gov/
Guess the FDA never heard of doggie bags.
I will tell you my beef. I have a difficult time finding small glasses. Huge glasses every where. but small 4, 6 and 10 oz glasses? Forget it!
Expect portion-limiting legislation in the near future.
If they refused to serve me what I ordered they will go out of business very quickly
Exactly..I am dining on wonderful leftovers from a birthday dinner tonight.
Great, FDA issues report about restaurant portions; the Trial Lawyers now have the chum they need to start a class action lawsuit feeding frenzy.
down with the FDA
The study is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Adults do not need the government to control what they eat ...time for the FDA to cut the PORK!! I would love to see them go on a LEANER budget with our tax money.
Expect portion-limiting legislation in the near future.
Congre$$ will be exempt,. of course. ;-)
You don't have to fill up the glass you know
power hungry jackbooted nutritionists
Most restaurant serving sizes in America are at least 1.5 to 2x the servings I see in canada or here in NZ. Quite a lot of food actually.
You may find this news article interesting CC, as you point on America food being excessive in size the otehr day. ;-)
'ol Mom and I have gone to ordering one meal for us both....usually is just about right. Sometimes a resturant will charge an extra dollar for an extra plate, but only a few.
My wife and I noted that portions in NM are huge, and so are the folks - to each his own.
Guess the FDA never heard of nouvelle cuisine where you get just a dab of this and a dab of that and a drizzle of something meaningful served on a very large plate with one green onion for decoration. Nouvelle cuisine is when you better have a sandwich in your car so you don't faint from hunger [and the cost of your minimalist meal]!
Properly defined, nouvelle cuisine is:
eclectic style in international haute cuisine developed during the 1960s and '70s that stressed freshness, lightness, and clarity of flavour. In reaction to some of the richer and more calorie-laden extravagances of classic French haute cuisine, nouvelle cuisine sought to emphasize the natural flavours, textures, and colours of foodstuffs. Acknowledging the unhealthiness of a diet heavy in fats, sugars, refined starches, and salt, it minimized the use of these ingredients. Nouvelle cuisine was also influenced by the Japanese style of food presentation.Could it be that the FDA hangs out in "restaurants" where they ask if you wanna sooper size it? LOL!
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