Are Large Restaurant Portions Making Us Fat?

“In a restaurant setting, increasing the size of an entrée results in increased energy intake,” say Pennsylvania State University researchers. “These results support the suggestion large restaurant portions may be contributing to the obesity epidemic.”

Since many of us often eat in restaurants instead of at home, study was designed to examine whether increasing the portion size of an entrée affected caloric intake at a restaurant meal. In a cafeteria-style restaurant on different days, the size pasta entrée was varied from a standard portion (248 grams) a large portion (377 grams).

“Intake of the entrée was determined by covertly weighing each dish before and after the meal,” write the researchers. Compared to customers who purchased the standard portion, those who purchased the larger portion increased their caloric intake by 43 percent.

—Obesity Research, March

Five Tips For Controlling Portion Sizes When Dining Out
By Liane Roe

  1. If you know ahead of time that you will be dining in a restaurant, make sure that you eat filling but low-calorie foods at your other meals
  2. Order a low energy-dense soup or salad for your first course, which will fill you up without adding many calories
  3. Order an appetizer as your main meal, and avoid the oversized entrees
  4. Split a large entree with a companion.
  5. As soon as the entree is served, set some of it aside on your plate and then ask for a box at the end of a meal so that you can take it home.

Liane Roe
Research Nutritionist
Pennsylvania State University

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