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:
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:
- Young LR, Nestle M, The contribution of expanding portion sizes to the U.S. obesity epidemic. American Journal of Public Health, 2002. 92(2): p. 246-9.
- Young LR, Nestle M, Expanding portion sizes in the U.S. marketplace: implications for nutrition counseling. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2003. 103(2): p. 231-4.
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.
This post also appears on Food Politics, an Atlantic partner site.