[Infographic] The new (ab)normal: Portion sizes today vs. 1950s


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It’s not news that Americans’ colossal portion sizes have played a major role in our obesity epidemic, but this infographic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention really depicts how massive our meals have become.

In the 1950s, the average hamburger ordered at a restaurant weighed in at around 3.9 oz. It more than tripled its average weight over the past 60 years or so and now clocks in at about 12 oz. The average portion of french fries shot up from 2.4 oz. to 6.7 oz. And soda was the most shocking. Back then, the average restaurant soda was about 7 oz.; today, it’s 42 oz.

Image: MakingHealthEasier.org


The text appearing at the top of the infographic has been copied below:
“Portion sizes have been growing. So have we. The average restaurant meal today is more than four times larger than in the 1950s. And adults are, on average, 26 pounds heavier. If we want to eat healthy, there are a few things we can do for ourselves and our community: Order the smaller meals on the menu, split a meal with a friend, or, eat half and take the rest home. We can also ask the managers at our favorite restaurants to offer smaller meals.”

Even scarier than the numbers portrayed in this illustration are the numbers showing the effects this gluttony has had on American health. Today, more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese, according to the CDC. And a recent CDC report predicted that this number will rise to 42% by 2030.

It’s tough to quit eating delicious food when it’s sitting right in front of us on our plates. If you don’t have the self-control to stop eating, do whatever you can to make sure that excess food doesn’t end up on your plate. As the infographic suggests, you can order smaller meals on the menu or split a meal with a friend. I have a friend who even asks for a to-go box when her meal is served so she can box up half and move it out of her sight while she eats the other half.

Making healthy food choices now can reduce your risk for Type 2 diabetes, hypertension (i.e., high blood pressure), high cholesterol and heart disease, among other conditions. To get a better idea of what constitutes a healthy serving size, check out our story on serving-size comparisons you can visualize to keep your portions in check.


Infographic sources from the CDC: