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in Overweight - 11 Dec, 2015
Fight obesity with smaller portions and smaller dishes

Three decades of increased prevalence of obesity and overweight and no country has managed to reduce it. A study just published by the British Medical Journal rescues forgotten move that could be very effective cans of soft drinks and more moderate portions of food.

New York is good example. As in 2012 the health authorities of the city approved a law banning sugary drinks in cups over 0.464 liters, two years later and after several appeals, the State Court definitively rejected the entry into force of the measure. According this project no one had been able to sell soft drinks or energy and high calory drinks in restaurants, fast food chains, street carts, stadiums, concert halls, etc. The aim of mayor of New York in 2012, Michael Bloomberg, was to combat obesity and type 2 diabetes in New York.

Now a team of researchers from UK published a report which made some suggestions to reduce obesity rates in the world passing by taking the step to rations of food and sugary drinks. Although the causes of obesity are complex, known to eat more than it should is a major determinant and the size of packaging is key to this trend.

According to the experts, over the past 50 years, portion sizes, packaging and tableware has been increasing. In 1950, for example, hamburgers assumed 3.9 ounces (one ounce equals 28.70 grams), now – 12 oz. The drinks have gone from 7-42 ounces and potatoes 2.4 to 6.7. As for the portions of steaks that are served in restaurants, the report notes an increase of 50% (from 160 grams and 425 kcal. to 240 grams and 640 kcal.).

A recent review of The Cochrane Library, a publication of the Cochrane Collaboration (an international organization that reviews the scientific evidence) noted that when offered larger portions, people consume more. A simple rule that suggests opposite effect. As pointed this review, remove large portions of the diet could reduce the average daily energy consumed between 12% and 16% in the adult population of the United Kingdom, and between 22% and 29% in the US.

This data suggests reducing the size of the portions of the packaging of sugary drinks and dishes used in the table as a measure for obesity rate down. The portion size matters, especially in places like cafes and processed foods such as cakes, muffins and chips. Packaging and sugary energy drinks should also be restricted. And, of course, restrict offers to sell bigger portions at more affordable price than smaller portions and also remove ads with large containers.

Both cafeterias and restaurants and at home, experts recommend always use plates, cups and cutlery smaller. Such interventions are relatively easy to implement in public organizations such as schools, hospitals, military bases and prisons sector. Such changes pose great challenges in other culinary industry related scenarios.

According to the researchers, reducing portions and packaging should reach sizes they had in 1950, which would lead in many cases reductions of more than 50%, especially in dense energy products. This is much more than 5% offered and negotiated by the food industry in the UK. Also help other measures as sanctions for not participating in voluntary agreements of this type. In all this work, the political responsibility is shared with the food industry.

Another study published this week in The Lancet warns that the global diet is ever sweeter, especially when it comes to drinks. According to experts, the consumption of foods and beverages with added caloric sweeteners is linked to an increased risk of weight gain, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Currently, 68% of packaged foods and beverages containing caloric sweeteners in the US and only 5% are only made with low-calorie sweeteners. Measures to reduce the size of the portions will help descend obesity and other risks.