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Young Americans Eating Larger Food Portions

So-called 'portion distortion' ups college students' portion sizes more than 25 percent in two decades

FRIDAY, Sept. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Food portions chosen by American college students have grown 25 percent larger than they were 20 years ago, undermining weight-control efforts and creating potential health problems, researchers report in the September issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Carol Byrd-Bredbenner, Ph.D., of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., and a colleague compared the weights of portions of eight breakfast foods and six lunch or six dinner foods chosen by 177 university students aged 16 to 26 with portion sizes outlined in the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act.

The researchers found breakfast and lunch portions selected by young adults were more than 25 percent larger than those picked by their peers surveyed for a similar 1984 study.

"Portion distortion seems to affect the portion sizes selected by young adults for some foods," the authors write. "This phenomenon has the potential to hinder weight loss, weight maintenance and/or health improvement efforts. Thus, nutrition professionals must develop ways to 'undistort' what clients perceive to be typical portion sizes and help them recognize what is an appropriate amount to eat."

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