New York City Health Department Gets It: Portion Control Matters

The amazing New York City Health Department, almost unique in its interest in public health and willingness to do what it can to improve the health of New Yorkers, adds another campaign to its collection of hard hitters. This one is on the need to reduce portion sizes.

The subway campaign posters are in Spanish and English. Here's an example in Spanish:

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I especially like this campaign because much of the work on increasing portion sizes in the food supply was launched by my former doctoral student, now Dr. Lisa Young. See:

Larger portions do three things:

  • They have more calories, obviously.
  • They induce people to eat more calories.
  • They induce people to underestimate the number of calories they are eating.

All of these induce people to eat more than they need or should.

The expansion of portion sizes alone is sufficient to explain rising rates of obesity.

The Health Department's campaign makes sense. Let's hope it helps.

Image: NYC Health.

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This post also appears on Food Politics, an Atlantic partner site.

Presented by

Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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