America, it’s time to go on a diet

Bigger is better, right?  Not necessarily.  

The rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease are steadily increasing every year in the United States. The rise in obesity has heavily contributed to the unhealthy diets and lack of exercise in many people’s lives. Although these are both large factors in the obesity epidemic, they are not the only reasons American’s are getting bigger and bigger.  

Directly proportional to our growing waistlines, are our growing portion sizes. Twenty years ago, if a person ordered a bagel from the bakery, it would typically be 3 inches in diameter. Today, an average-size bagel is 5 to 6 inches in diameter. A typical burger and fries, 20 years ago, was about 550 calories. Today, if the same meal was ordered, it would be over twice the size and tack about 1200 calories onto the daily intake.

This change in eating habits is also seen in the change of the body composition of the average person. The muscle to fat ratio has changed so drastically in just 20 years, that if a person looked at images side by side, it looks like an entire evolution period has passed. 

The problem is, it’s not evolution that is making the human body change; it’s our own actions, as human beings.    It’s each individual’s responsibility to take of their own health, however, food processing companies and restaurants have to take some responsibility and blame for the fact that they are essentially making their consumers ill.  

Although a person doesn’t have to eat everything that is on their plate, it has been tested and proven that the more food that is front of a person, the more they will eat.  The other day, I went out to breakfast and ordered an omelette. 

As described in the menu, this consisted of three eggs, cheese, bacon, mushrooms, onions and spinach. It would be hard to finish just by itself, but after I ordered it, the waitress them proceeded to ask me “cottage fries or hash browns?” and “what kind of toast?” When the meal came out, it consisted of two large plates filled entirely. The meal didn’t get anywhere near finished, but I definitely ate more than I was hungry for and it left me feeling miserably full.  

It is completely irresponsible of restaurants to continue to make the portions bigger and bigger.  The same is true with food companies. It is a double-edged sword, because people see big portions for low cost, and jump on it. What they do not take into consideration is the increasing medical bills that come as a result of their poor diets and overconsumption of high calorie, high fat and heavily processed foods.  

Restaurants and food companies alike need to make a change and realize there is something more important than profit - their consumer’s health and wellbeing. We, as Americans, should go back to the portion sizes that were around when our grandparents and great grandparents were growing up. That way our kids (and our kids’ kids) will not live in a country filled with people who are highly obese and chronically ill.  

Although it would be ideal for people to have the self-control and be able to monitor their own consumption, that is not realistic. It’s going to take a whole effort from consumers and the providers to make a change.