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FOR RELEASE: February 22, 2005
Portion Sizes Help Maintain a Healthy Weight
In 2002, 129 million adult Americans were overweight or obese. Likewise, in Oklahoma, an estimated 59.2 percent of adults are overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese can put you at risk for developing many diseases, especially heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. However, losing this weight helps to prevent and control these diseases, according to officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). Knowing the difference between “servings” and “portions” can help keep the weight off.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) guidelines offer a new approach for the measurement of overweight and obesity and a set of steps for safe and effective weight loss. If you eat on the run or at restaurants, you’ve noticed that food portions have gotten larger. While some meals are called "super size," others have simply grown in size and provide enough food for at least two people. With this growth in portion size comes increases in waistlines and body weight.
“Many people confuse the terms ‘serving’ and ‘portion’ and end up overeating based on the number of servings without regard to the size of the portions,” said OSDH dietitian, Leslie Pelton. “Eating nutritious meals in the correct portions and getting regular exercise is the beginning of maintaining a healthy weight.”
For instance, a “serving” is a unit of measure used to describe the amount of food recommended from each food group in the Food Guide Pyramid and is outlined in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. All packaged foods list the number of servings contained on the Nutrition Facts label. However, a “portion” is the amount of a specific food you choose to eat for dinner, snack, or other eating occasion. Portions, of course, can be bigger or smaller than the recommended serving size.
For example, six to 11 servings of whole grains are recommended daily. A recommended serving of whole grains would be one slice of bread or one-half cup of rice or pasta. People often confuse the recommendation to mean six to 11 portions with no regard to serving size. A large bowl of pasta may contain four to six servings of pasta.
Some examples of how portions have changed over the last 20 years, include:
To see if you know the difference between today's portions compared to those 20 years ago, and to learn how much physical activity is required to burn those additional calories, visit this Web site: http://hin.nhlbi.nih.gov/portion/keep.htm and take the quiz on Portion Distortion I (2003) and Portion Distortion II (2004).
For more information about portion distortion, contact the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program at 1-888-655-2942 or the nutritionist at your county health department.
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