Portion Size Me: Downsizing Our Consumption Norms

Journal of the American Dietetic Association 107.7 (2007): 1103-1106

5 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2014

See all articles by Brian Wansink

Brian Wansink

Retired - Cornell University

Koert van Ittersum

University of Groningen

Date Written: July 1, 2007


We are a nation of super-sized portions and supersized people. When faced with the family-sized box of breakfast cereal, five sizes of french fries, or a 14-in dinner plate, it is easy to forget our world history. In 75 years we have gone from shivering in Depression breadlines and hoarding food-ration stamps to being an overweight, super-sized country. Most of us are now surrounded with a portion-distorted embarrassment of food (1). We find portion distortions in supermarkets, where the number of larger sizes has increased 10-fold between 1970 and 2000 (2). We find portion distortions in restaurants, where the jumbo-sized portions are consistently 250% larger than the regular portion. We even find portion distortions in our homes (3), where the sizes of our bowls and glasses have steadily increased and where the surface area of the average dinner plate has increased 36% since 1960 (4). And if our bowls, glasses, and plates do not distort us, our recipes will. In the 2006 edition of the Joy of Cooking, the serving size of some entrées has increased by as much as 62% from some recipes in the first edition of 1920. This commentary addresses four questions: (a) Who is portion-size prone? (b) Why do portion sizes lead us to overeat? (c) What caused portion distortion? and (d) How can we downsize our consumption norms?

Suggested Citation

Wansink, Brian and van Ittersum, Koert, Portion Size Me: Downsizing Our Consumption Norms (July 1, 2007). Journal of the American Dietetic Association 107.7 (2007): 1103-1106, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2474331

Brian Wansink (Contact Author)

Retired - Cornell University ( email )

Koert Van Ittersum

University of Groningen ( email )

Postbus 72
9700 AB Groningen

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