Expanding portion sizes in the US marketplace: Implications for nutrition counseling

Lisa R. Young, Marion Nestle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The greater energy content of larger food portions could be contributing to the increasing prevalence of overweight. Prevention guidelines recommend ″sensible" portion sizes but do not define them. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines standard serving sizes for dietary guidance, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines standard servings for food labels. To use these standards in counseling, nutritionists must know the sizes of portions available in the marketplace. We determined marketplace portion sizes, identified changes in these sizes with time, and compared current marketplace portions with federal standards. Most marketplace portions exceed standard serving sizes by at least a factor of 2 and sometimes 8-fold. Portions have increased over time; those offered by fast-food chains, for example, often are 2 to 5 times larger than the original size. The discrepancy between marketplace portions and standard servings suggests the need for greater emphasis on the relationship of portion size to energy intake as a factor in weight maintenance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-240
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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