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Overeating from Supersize Meal Portions

How an Overloaded Plate Can Lead to Obesity


Updated January 26, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Overeating from Supersize Meal Portions

Supersize meal portions are becoming the norm

Image © Wade / Photodisc / Getty Images

Over the past few years, the number of obese North Americans has skyrocketed, in both children and adults. There are two major factors that account for the obesity epidemic: consumption of more calories than we really need and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, resulting in a lack of exercise.

One of the ways that we are consuming more calories than we need is through supersize meal portions, both at home and at restaurants. As the movie "Supersize Me" demonstrated, North American fast food establishments are building their marketing on larger and larger food portions, including the notorious "supersize" meal portions. Consumers are tempted by the seemingly good value of larger portions for a lower cost per amount bought.

As the documentary "Supersize Vs Superskinny" shows, obese people also load up their plates at home with supersize meal portions. Our perceptions of what is a normal serving has increased, putting us all at risk of overeating without realizing. The recommended portion sizes for an adult meal are only 3 or 4 ounces of meat, or 1/2 cup of legumes, or 2 ounces of cheese, 1/2 to one cup of carbohydrates, and 1 to 2 cups of non-starchy vegetables. Take a look at how this appears on your plate -- if it looks too small, you are have probably fallen victim to the supersize mentality. We are also using high-fat sauces and dressings in larger quantities, and consuming little or no "good" fats.

So how should we handle the pressure to eat larger meal portions?

Read Portion Control Tips


Kessler, M.D., D. The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite. New York: Rodale.

Syto, Y. Nutrition Map: Your Guide to Healthy Easting in the Real World. Charlston SC: Yvonne Quinones Syto. 2010.

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