I’ve just read a study which, I confess, is not very convincing. It says that large rations are not exclusive to the United States, but are seen all over the world. Conducted in 5 countries (Brazil, Finland, China, Ghana, and India), the study found that most meals served in full-service restaurants (where you eat at the table for quite a bit of money) and fast food establishments often exceed 1000 calories, and that’s without taking into account drinks, snacks, and desserts!
“Because of its richness in calories, fast food has always been an easy target for dietary changes, and previous studies have targeted restaurants,” explains Susan B. Roberts, lead author of the paper and director of the Energy and Metabolism Laboratory at the Jean Mayers Center at Tufts University. “You have to keep in mind that eating out is becoming more and more common in the world and that it’s easy to eat too much if you do it in a restaurant,” she adds.
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As much as it has been published in the British Medical Journal, the study draws conclusions that are too general in my opinion. These are the problems I see with it:
- The experts analyzed only fast food and full-service establishments, with few fresh products and a lot of dubious fats and refined carbohydrates, which already favor obesity and chronic diseases.
- They did not investigate typical restaurants in Mediterranean countries, with more fresh produce and smaller portions. In fact, Mediterranean countries were not part of the work.
- Considering that, according to the WHO, the figures for obesity have tripled in only three decades, identifying the real reasons that have led to this situation seems vital to me. In my opinion, portion size is only one aspect of another, more serious problem, which is the type of food that makes up the diet.
- As many experts have found, the current obesity epidemic has much to do with the growing trend towards eating more and more fast food, which fills you up for little money but ‘catches’ you with products that are poor in fiber and nutrients and rich in sugars, refined flours, and questionable facts. But just look at the statistics to see how addiction to these products is spreading around the world, while obesity rates are increasing.