back to article The ONE WEIRD TRICK which could END OBESITY

Research by a crack team from the Department of the Bleedin' Obvious indicates that the UK's growing fat crisis could be tackled by people stuffing less grub into their faces. In fairness to the University of Cambridge nosh squad responsible for this shock conclusion, the actual finding is that "reducing the portion sizes …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    It is not portion size which matters

    It is what's innit and what do you do besides stuffin' your face.

    I can stuff myself with triple Balkan (Bulgarian, Serbian, Macedonian - they are all about the same) grill portions up to twice a day (that is a plate size pork chop each) and still keep my weight close to its healthy numbers. This is despite not overdoing the exercise and having a job which requires me to spend most of my day staring at code on the monitor in front of me.

    Junk food (as depicted), however, in the days when I was still eating it meant 10kg+ on top of it before I bat an eye lid. My personal suspicion is the bread. The bread today has nothing to do with what we ate as kids - it is full of "interesting" additives including some really nasty brominated sh*t which allow it to stay nice and rubbery for a week instead of becoming hard in 2 days as bread should.

    So it is not the calories, calories in that range can be burned off and are burned off. In fact, you can burn off significantly more surplus calories without noticing them. It is something else.

    1. wiggers
      Boffin

      Re: It is not portion size which matters

      You're on the right track and bread is a key factor. You can go further and say carbohydrates in general contribute to obesity, diabetes, and a host of other conditions known collectively as metabolic syndrome. This has been shown in numerous high quality studies and meta-analyses. The biochemistry of this is very simple. The body considers carbs as a rarity because for most of the past million years we haven't had supermarkets with aisles full of cereals, crisps, sugary drinks, bread, baked goods, biscuits, jam, sweets, etc. So when you consume carbs the mechanism that makes you feel full is turned off so that you can carb-load and build up fat reserves quickly. That's fine if it's for a short season before winter, but not every day all year round. Eating food high in natural fats will make you feel full properly and it's difficult to over-consume.

      Smaller portion sizes will make no difference now that people are accustomed to snacking (and adverts tell them it's good and healthy so to do). They'll still have the mid-morning and mid-afternoon crash in blood-glucose levels and feel 'hungry' so reach for more sugar. Expect sales of snacks and sugary drinks to increase if this is implemented.

      Low carb, high fat is what we always used to eat.

      http://www.dietdoctor.com/

      1. Infernoz Bronze badge
        Boffin

        Re: It is not portion size which matters

        We also didn't eat toxic junk like heat extracted vegetable oils, which can be even worse than excessive blood sugar from carbs for rotting the body, because they are not only rancid but also contain TFAs (Trans Fatty Acids), including Olive Oil and even Extra Virgin Olive Oil which is not fresh! The worst thing you can do with vegetable fats is fry with them, because that will make the oil rancid and convert more to TFAs, some like Extra Virgin Avocado and Coconut are more resistant to this.

        Any fats you eat should be saturated, in whole food or a more stable cold extracted oil like Avocado kept in a dark container; cold extraction and darkness is also critical for marine oils too, because unsaturated oils can easily become toxic from heat and light.

        1. wowfood

          Re: It is not portion size which matters

          There's also the issue of flour quality.

          The wheat nowadays has been grown for quantity but not quality, there's more kernels of wheat (i think that's the right term) but the mineral profile is far lower. This is in part due to the cross breeding of different strains to optimise the quantity, and also partly due to overfarming depleting the minerals in the soil which the wheat would have historically passed on to us (this is also the reason that cattle have to be supplemented with b-vitamins)

          If you want bread which is actually good for you, you have to make it yourself, but even then you can't use normal bread flour because it's still terrible quality. You're better off buying a home grain mill (or making your own) and milling your own flour straight from the grain. This way it's fresher and healthier as you know exactly what's gone in.

          http://www.breadexperience.com/home-milling/

          But then you still have the issue that a fair bit of the grains mineral makeup are actuallly various minerals that stop the absorption of other minerals, so a lot of the benifits can go straight through you, how to solve this? Sprout the grain first.

          http://nourishedkitchen.com/how-to-make-sprouted-grain-flour/

          You can buy sprouted grain flour, but considering the process of sprouting the grain and grinding it up, I'd be wary of the freshness.

          Also, sprouted grain breads taste... different. Just an FYI

    2. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: It is not portion size which matters

      Eat when hungry, stop eating when not hungry. Lost 6 kilos already like that and didn't give up anything!

      If one allows oneself to become hungry before every meal, one gets to know that feeling full means something else than "stuffed" or "engorged". This, in my experience anyway, means that one does not really feel like eating much beyond the "the hunger has gone away" point.

      And inside ones head, one learns that food is available, should hunger arise, not something that should be hoarded in case it never shows up again. And that hunger can be endured for a while, it is not a crisis.

      I have some fatty friends who gets what I would call panic symptoms if they are placed in an environment where Food is not immediately obvious or available - they are basically driven by their food-anxiety to McDonalds in the middle of Barcelona because they recognise it amongst thousands of Tapas-places. It's like a junky always scouting for the next fix.

      1. Vic

        Re: It is not portion size which matters

        Eat when hungry, stop eating when not hungry

        And eat slowly.

        There is a lag between becoming full and becoming aware of being full. During that time, scoff is still free-falling down your neck.

        Eating more slowly minimises the over-eating without compromising the satiety.

        Vic.

    3. Mephistro Silver badge

      Re: It is not portion size which matters (@ Voland's right hand)

      Totally true.

      I'd also like to point at carbonated beverages, which are the closest thing to injecting sugar directly into our veins, and in particular caffeinated drinks, e.g. most colas, that are both diuretic -forcing you to drink more- and addictive (because of the sugar and caffeine 'high'). What could possibly go wrong?

      And yet another factor:

      When I had all my hair (not that long ago :-) children would go to a confectionery shop and buy a few candies/threats/whatever and do this only very occasionally. Then the shops began to proliferate, and suddenly wherever you went, you would see children, sometimes almost toddlers, stuffing their faces from transparent plastic bags containing 'things' made with lots of the best juice from the North Sea, unsaturated fats, flavour enhancers that could make a hole through an engine block, and probably radioactive dust, from the way some of these confections glow.

      Here, I think parents deserve a good bollocking or two.

    4. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: It is not portion size which matters

      Heh. Back in the 80s I used to take delight in taking visiting English pals for a sandwich in a New York diner.

      First giggle was the sticker shock. Seven bucks? For a shrimp salad sandwich?

      I would of course say "My treat" (well worth the cost for the ents value alone).

      Next giggle was he look on their face when the sandwich arrived, it being about three times the size the guest was expecting.

      Next giggle was watching them tryy and pack away the whole thing before they left, before ending the misery by saying "You know, you are allowed, nay expected to take some of that home with you. I'll ask for a take-out box, shall I?"

      Because the real problem here is the culture that says somehow you only own the food while it is in the restaurant, and must eat it or leave it. The same ethic when applied to, say, software, would cause immediate uproar but food must be eaten or tossed out in the garbage in the UK restaurant culture.

      Bloody silly. That sandwich was two meals.

      1. Steven Roper

        Re: It is not portion size which matters

        "food must be eaten or tossed out in the garbage in the UK restaurant culture."

        There's a similar thing here in Australia too. It's because there's some stupid bloody 'elf 'n' safety law that allows the eatery to be fined for letting people take away food meant for dine-in.

        Most restaurants, however, will disregard this law - but not all. So it doesn't hurt to ask; there's a good chance the restaurant will tell you they're not supposed to let you take the food but will give you a container and look the other way regardless.

        Few will actively refuse to let you take the food. The main exception is buffets and smorgies - mainly because they don't want people loading up a week's groceries from the salad bar and walking out the door.

        1. Martin Budden

          Re: It is not portion size which matters

          In the last few months I've been making my own sourdough bread. Not because of any healthy reasons, just because firstly it tastes so much better than supermarket Chorleywood crap, and secondly because I actually enjoy baking. The gf loves it (and she quite likes the sourdough too).

          Baking is surprisingly easy, if you aren't doing it I recommend you try it.

      2. Sooty

        Re: It is not portion size which matters

        "Back in the 80s I used to take delight in taking visiting English pals for a sandwich in a New York diner... Next giggle was he look on their face when the sandwich arrived, it being about three times the size the guest was expecting... Next giggle was watching them tryy and pack away the whole thing"

        This is part of the UK post war culture, that may go away in the current/next generations. When our parents and grandparents were younger, food was really scarce, you even had rationing. Food was never, ever, to go to waste. If you put it out to eat, you ate it.

        Most of us, even now, still grow up with this mindset drilled into us, as a child you aren't allowed to leave the table until you've cleared your plate.

        I believe in the US, you don't have this as much, and so find nothing too unusual in only eating part of a meal portion. For people in the UK, actually training yourself to be able to leave part of a meal and just bin it if you're full is difficult, but can be a big help.

        I know someone who's diet is just to use a smaller plate, so she eats what everyone else does, and starts with a full plate and eats all of it, but has a lot less. She's lost a lot of weight with this so this might work, however it depends what's in the supermarket meal portions. I got some small portion "low fat" meals from the supermarket and whatever was in them, made me far hungrier after I'd finished it than when I started, I assume they pumped it full of something to replace the fat.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: It is not portion size which matters

          just balance out the takeaways by eating at a dodgy indian every now and again. Your body will automatically flush both ends as necessary.

        2. Mat

          Re: It is not portion size which matters

          "I got some small portion "low fat" meals from the supermarket and whatever was in them, made me far hungrier after I'd finished it than when I started, I assume they pumped it full of something to replace the fat."

          That'll be the sugar in it to replace the fat... Sugar switches off Leptin (the satiety hormone) production

          Try over eating pork chops.. Pretty damn hard - then try overeating pasta / rice / any sugar really..

        3. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Food was never, ever, to go to waste

          And if you carry out your leftovers in a box when you are finished eating, it doesn't go to waste. It gets re-heated (if that's appropriate) and eaten the next day.

          I was born in '55 in the UK, two years after rationing ended. I know all about the rationing mindset, but it isn't just a European thing. I've met people who grew up hungry in the States too. I maintain that a real issue for Britain is the "you don't own your food" restaurant culture, which should be a thing of the dim distant past.

          This doesn't fix food wastage though, as there are many reasons why perfectly good food is tossed away in rich cultures. From sell-by dates to ugly fruit, spurious-logic food wastage is a boil on the cultural backside of all wealthy western countries. The irony is that this often goes hand-in-glove with a subculture of people too poor to afford to eat, even in those enlightened countries that offer a proper social safety net.

        4. Alistair Silver badge

          Re: It is not portion size which matters

          @sooty

          They did replace the fat.

          With sugar, and salt.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obesity is a reflection of societies illhealth

    Until society in general becomes "healthier" then this problem is not going away.

    I would suggest that the real root cause is far deeper in the mind than just the end of the fork.

    Contemporary society as a whole has become greedy. It no longer remembers how to constrain itself. The media's leitmotiv is eternally based upon consumption in the largest possible portion and in all domains. Be the fastest, strongest, richest, etc

    Obesity is the manifestation of only one of a multitude of modern cancers.

    That was my happy thought for today...

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Obesity is a reflection of societies illhealth

      That and the culture of snacking.

      Even as recent as 40 years ago people did not stuff their gob all the time when they are not asleep. You had breakfast, lunch and dinner. You actually had to take a break to eat.

      Compared to that today you have breakfast, chips, sweets, chips, sweets, lunch, chips, sweets, chips, sweets, dinner. Eating on the job, eating at the desk, eating at every opportunity.

      So, even if you do not consume that many calories overall, your metabolism is constantly in "food came, I should store some of it aside for future perusal" mode. With the obvious results.

      1. dogged

        Re: Obesity is a reflection of societies illhealth

        > Eating on the job

        I can't see that being popular unless it's an extreme manifestation of "casual sex".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Obesity is a reflection of societies illhealth

          I seem to remember an episode of Absolutely Fabulous set in Morocco where licking yogurt off nubile young bodies was mentioned.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Obesity is a reflection of societies illhealth

          > Eating on the job

          I can't see that being popular unless it's an extreme manifestation of "casual sex".

          I can attest that eating pizza on the job is not advisable. Spicy meatballs becomes a side effect rather than a topping.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obesity is a reflection of societies illhealth

      Society has not only become greedy, it has also become acceptable to be fat. I'm not saying that we should be "fat shaming" anyone that doesn't "fit"...

      I'd always been a fat kid, and then a fat adult. It took me a long time to realise that I wasn't "big boned", this wasn't my "normal size"; I ate too much and did too little exercise. You can be whatever shape you want to be, and telling people that being obese is fine and acceptable does not encourage people to aim for a healthy weight.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Obesity is a reflection of societies illhealth

        "Society has not only become greedy, it has also become acceptable to be fat. I'm not saying that we should be "fat shaming" anyone that doesn't "fit"...

        I'd always been a fat kid, and then a fat adult. It took me a long time to realise that I wasn't "big boned", this wasn't my "normal size"; I ate too much and did too little exercise. You can be whatever shape you want to be, and telling people that being obese is fine and acceptable does not encourage people to aim for a healthy weight."

        It is very refreshing to actually hear someone being honest for once.. again something else that society has now forgotten, how to be honest. it has become more important to be Politically Correct that it is to actually be "correct".

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Obesity is a reflection of societies illhealth

          "it has become more important to be Politically Correct that it is to actually be "correct"."

          Yes, but I would say that is second only to "blame someone else"

          It's also worth bearing in mind that what a doctor means by obese and what your average person means by obese are not necessarily the same thing.

      2. dogged

        Re: Obesity is a reflection of societies illhealth

        @AC-who-used-to-be-fat

        There's a lardass around here who doesn't like what you say, AC. Personally, I applaud your honesty as long as you're not going to mention BMI at any point.

        (I am 6'4" and lift weights for a hobby. By BMI standards, I probably died five years ago).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Obesity is a reflection of societies illhealth

          Lardy AC here - BMI is a useful indicator if you aren't any of short/tall/incredibly muscle-bound. For me, it was bloody accurate, but then I'm the standard 5ft 11in white man they based it all on...

          The problem with BMI is people using it as a tickbox, if your BMI is "normal" or even slightly "overweight" (identical outcomes), then you are fine. If it's "obese", it's time to look at the next thing, not go "Oh you are obese, you need to lose weight" - you then need to look at body fat, or waist to height proportions, or one of the many other indicators (like opening your eyes and looking at the person and not the numbers).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Obesity is a reflection of societies illhealth

            I thought the problem with BMI was a failure to distinguish fat from muscle mass and utter ignorance of the square-cube law, but YMMV.

          2. Mat

            Re: Obesity is a reflection of societies illhealth

            Look at a graph of longevity vs BMI...

            Those in the overweight category live longer than those in the healthy category..

            "Excess deaths associated with underweight, overweight and obesity." That certainly suggests that overweight is bad for you. However, if you look more closely at the paper in Jama, we can find these words: "Overweight was not associated with excess mortality." (My italics). Perhaps more extraordinarily, what the researchers actually found was that those who were overweight lived the longest; they lived longer than those of "normal" weight."

            (http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=200731)

            1. Tom 38 Silver badge

              Re: Obesity is a reflection of societies illhealth

              Read the comment section of the same report:

              We did not examine other health problems caused by obesity. A recent population-based study has found that overweight and obesity have a strong and deleterious impact on important components of health status, including morbidity, disability, and quality of life, and this impact is disproportionately borne by younger adults.

              Even if being overweight doesn't increase your mortality rates, your life would be a lot better if you were not. Mortality is whether you are alive or not, morbidity is whether you are healthy or not. Why not aim to be healthy?

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

              2. Kiwi Silver badge

                Re: Obesity is a reflection of societies illhealth

                Even if being overweight doesn't increase your mortality rates, your life would be a lot better if you were not. Mortality is whether you are alive or not, morbidity is whether you are healthy or not. Why not aim to be healthy?

                I'm in my early 40s. Not to many years back I considered climbing mountains a "brief walk in the park", and indeed did a lot of walking and biking and so on. I also did a lot of work requiring heavy lifting, happily cut and transported my own firewood and so on.

                Then I got lazy and fat. I know people who are in their late 70's who can power up a hill carrying weights I cannot even lift now. 5 years ago I could lift in the region of 100kgs (not easily, but I could lift it), these days 30kgs is a struggle. I could think nothing of walking several k's, largely up hill. Now the corner store - which should be a 5 minute walk - is something I need powered transport for.

                Keep your health and your strength. It may not seem like much, but you will regret it when it's gone. When you have it, it's easy to keep. When you develop bad habits and start to lose your strength and your health, it's hard to get it back. 10 minutes exercise a day might've kept your health, but when you lose it you need 15 or 20 - or more. And you don't feel like doing it. One of the sad things with these conditions is the fitter you are, the more you desire to remain fit.

                Oh, and to link this back to what Tom was saying - I may easily outlive my family averages (46 or 47 for female, 49-50 for male), may outlive my grandmother who was an aerobics instructor at 83, but where I cannot enjoy the things I used to do what value is there in a longer life? Sadly, a walk it the park is no longer a walk in the park. Hell, even cutting my own toenails is difficult! And so far I've said nothing about the effects excess fat have had on my brain.

                tl;dr You may not die from being over weight, but you are far less likely to enjoy life.

    3. disgruntled yank Silver badge

      Re: Obesity is a reflection of societies illhealth

      Or maybe we should say that modern society is rich enough that greed is practical across a broad range of incomes.

    4. Guus Leeuw

      Re: Obesity is a reflection of societies illhealth

      Dear AC,

      define "healthier".

      How does one do that, when:

      1) Natural fatty have been successfully replaced by low-fat products. Take fat out of any food, and you get a taste problem. Sugar makes that go away... So you have tons of low-fat products that have some form of sugar. You do know that sugar is addictive, right?

      2) The general assumption is that eating meat three times a day is actually acceptable. Looking at where we're coming from as a race, eating crops is by far easier than eating meat. Also, growing meat as is done today on an industrial level is not helpful at all for sustainable agriculture. Growing meat costs a lot of water; much more than growing crops....

      Regards,

      Guus

  3. PleebSmash
    Pint

    craft it smaller

    "Well, our own professional research shows that the average size of a pint has varied exactly 0 per cent since 1993, and there's no way we're going into the boozer and asking for a half."

    Ask for the snifter:

    http://dishwashers.reviewed.com/features/youre-drinking-it-wrong-introduction-to-beer-glassware

    Got cider in a 4 oz (0.25 pint) serving the other day.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: craft it smaller

      4 oz to a quarter pint? Feel sorry for you American's being short-changed. Over here in blighty, we get a proper pint of 20 fl oz. (568ml rather than 473ml).

      That said, your craft beers are looking pretty good these days.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: craft it smaller

        I agree on some of the craft beers. some brewers in the US need to learn to let the beer settle and clear naturally before serving it. I've had to send more than one pint (16floz version) back because it was full of yeasty mess. The brewer prouldy claimed that was the way it was supposed to be drunk. Didn't go back there again (this was in Durango, Co)

        1. Vic

          Re: craft it smaller

          The brewer prouldy claimed that was the way it was supposed to be drunk.

          And he's probably right.

          Unfined beers taste much better, IMO. But they look mucky.

          Disclosure: My first brew went on sale on Saturday. It's proving quite popular. And it is decidedly hazy :-)

          Vic.

      2. Vic

        Re: craft it smaller

        That said, your craft beers are looking pretty good these days.

        I had an interesting discussion with a commercial brewer last night.

        Apparently, we Brits always get second shout at the American[1] hops - we get the stuff they can't sell domestically.

        This is going to be a huge problem next year, as the last harvest was quite poor, so British breweries are unlikely to get much in the way of American hops.

        Vic.

        [1] American hops are very popular at the moment - they taste much cleaner, without the brambly, earthy taste of a British hop.

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Re: craft it smaller

          Australian hops are similar to US hops, presumably other parts of the world too, so we might see some recipes change, although apparently there's a massive lag before production can be increased due to having to grow new hop-trees ( or bushes or whatever they are ).

          1. kiwimuso
            Pint

            Re: craft it smaller

            @ disgustedoftunbridgewells

            It's a vine, actually.

            And you from Kent!! You should be AshamedofTunbridgeWells. Mind you they don't grow quite so many in Kent these days, which is a shame, so if you're a young feller you may not have known that.

            But have a pint on me, anyway!

    2. Tom Wood

      Re: craft it smaller

      In the UK that would be illegal. The smallest quantity for selling draught beer and cider is a third of a pint. You are also allowed to sell two-third pint measures, and any (integer) multiple of half pint measures, but that's it. https://www.gov.uk/weights-measures-and-packaging-the-law/specified-quantities

    3. drand
      Pint

      Re: craft it smaller

      Real men/women drink halves. In a pint glass if you like, but you get to sample more different beers and you feel less inclined to finish half a litre of what you don't want or like just because it's there. Macho necking pints culture is the enemy of good beer.

      1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

        Re: Re: craft it smaller

        Well, we drink halves too. It's just that there's two of 'em in a pint glass simultaneously.

        1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

          Re: craft it smaller

          > Well, we drink halves too. It's just that there's two of 'em in a pint glass simultaneously.

          I remember a particularly drunken rugby club bar staff tour (look the players go on tour at Easter why shouldn't the bar staff OK) to Holland where we horrified to find beer being sold in 25cl glasses. But it was OK, I quickly worked out how to hold and 2 in each hand and be able to drink out of either of them, so it was all right.

          1. Nigel 11

            Re: craft it smaller

            When in Holland, do as the Dutch. ISTR that the beer comes in very small glasses, but the gin (genever) comes in very large ones filled right up to the rim. Apparently the tax is based on the volume of beverage and takes no account of its strength!

            Then there are those Belgian beers which start around 8% alcohol and work upwards from there ....

            1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: craft it smaller

              Then there are those Belgian beers which start around 8% alcohol and work upwards from there ....

              I've never understood the attraction, they're so sweet and cloying. Give me a pint of a decent 4% ale any time.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: craft it smaller

                There's a correlation with how much hair you have on your chest. One begets the other.

                1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
                  Pint

                  Re: craft it smaller

                  There's a correlation with how much hair you have on your chest. One begets the other.

                  I'm fine in the chest hair department. On the other hand, if they could do something for my head...

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: craft it smaller

                I've never understood the attraction, they're so sweet and cloying. Give me a pint of a decent 4% ale any time.

                Oh boy, you have some samplin' to do :). Belgium hosts in excess of 1000 different varieties of beer, and I dare say you may have tasted maybe a cherry variety which is indeed on the sweet side. I'm not a beer expert myself (and only partial to the occasional "Kriekske"), but I'm certain it's possible to find more than a few that your palate will appreciate. If not, keep sampling and it soon won't matter anyway :).

                For those in a hurry to get absolutely paralytic (I personally don't see the fun in that, but who am I to judge), try Kwak pils. If served in the proper glass it takes a seasoned alcoholic to imbibe more than 2, and I suspect you'll be really sorry you tried the next day :)

                1. Ben Bonsall

                  Re: craft it smaller

                  Proper Kriek is sour as hell, you add your own sugar later if you like.

                2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

                  Re: craft it smaller

                  Oh boy, you have some samplin' to do :).

                  No, I don't think so :) I live within driving distance of Belgium, and I've done enough. There are some palatable beers, and it's interesting to taste Brugse Zot or Straffe Hendrik at the brewery, but it's not a style I like. Too "thick", too strong (Brugse Zot Dubbel is 7.5 %). I'll stick to an English cask ale or bitter, or maybe a nice dry German or Czech Pilsner on a hot day.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: craft it smaller

                    No, I don't think so :) I live within driving distance of Belgium

                    Driving may indeed not be the best idea :). I have fairly easy access to Belgian beer too, but I have taken quite a liking to Guinness. Not being British/Irish means I don't quite have their intake speed so I mostly drink halves, but I rather like it coming from a tap. Canned is not quite as nice.

                    Not that that is a real challenge, thankfully you find Irish pubs everywhere :).

              3. launcap Silver badge

                Re: craft it smaller

                > Give me a pint of a decent 4% ale any time

                I think you have mis-spelled "a decent pint of proper cider (floaters optional) that doesn't contain 50% fizz.."

                Never was a fan of beer - one pint is enough to give me a hangover. Except for Weissbeer oddly enough!

                1. Vic

                  Re: craft it smaller

                  Never was a fan of beer

                  That usually means you haven't found the right beer for you, yet. There are more flavours than you can imagine. Saying "I don't like beer" is akin to saying "I don't like food"; try enough, and you will eventually find something that does it for you.

                  Vic.

            2. Khaptain Silver badge

              Re: craft it smaller

              Just recently tried a Belgian beer that was new to me, it's called "Kasteel Tripel" ( Do not confuse this with Castel which is a wishy washy South Arfrican beer).

              Kasteel Tripel is 11%, believe me you won't be downing 10 of these little bottles, the beer, as many of the Belgian beers, is excellent and definately worth a try.

              1. rjstua

                Re: craft it smaller

                Ahhh Kasteel, the cause of my wife's mid-afternoon extreme drunkenness during a weekend break in Brussels! 4 of those suckers and she was on a different planet!

              2. Vic

                Re: craft it smaller

                Just recently tried a Belgian beer that was new to me, it's called "Kasteel Tripel"

                I've got one in the fridge. My missus loves the stuff.

                Vic.

      2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: craft it smaller

        The half pint ( in a pint glass, naturally ) is only useful when driving.

        1. Vic

          Re: craft it smaller

          The half pint ( in a pint glass, naturally ) is only useful when driving

          When driving, I drink nothing at all.

          But the half-pint is de rigeur at beer festivals. Drink pints, and you'll not even scratch the surface.

          Vic.

      3. Vic

        Re: craft it smaller

        Real men/women drink halves

        Real men/women drink whatever size of beer they want to drink.

        Vic.

    4. Nigel 11

      Re: craft it smaller

      "Well, our own professional research shows that the average size of a pint has varied exactly 0 per cent since 1993, and there's no way we're going into the boozer and asking for a half."

      You do know, you've just made the perfect case for the metrication lobby?

    5. Vic

      Re: craft it smaller

      Got cider in a 4 oz (0.25 pint) serving the other day.

      I've been to a few pubs recently (including one very close to me) that offer beer by the third.

      Very useful when there are quite a few to try and you don't want to get smashed[1]...

      Vic.

      [1] Not too smashed, anyway.

  4. hplasm Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Personal anti-favourite-

    Adding a bag of crisps to a hydrogenated-oil snadwitch and a can of fizzy sugar does not make it a "meal".

    Making portions smaller means that fatties will buy two.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Personal anti-favourite-

      Making portions smaller means that fatties will buy two.

      That reminds me of some of those eco toilets that use less water. It means that any decent core dump (to keep it technical) requires multiple flushes which results in *more* water use. Duh.

    2. Paul Shirley

      Re: Personal anti-favourite-

      It's well accepted that drinking 2 halves takes less time than 1 pint. I suspect the same applies to food ;)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Personal anti-favourite-

      "Making portions smaller means that fatties will buy two."

      Been there, done that.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Personal anti-favourite-

      >Adding a bag of crisps to a hydrogenated-oil snadwitch

      A crisp sandwich with a bag of crisps on the side. Great idea...

    5. Caustic tWit

      Re: Personal anti-favourite-

      Upvote for "snadwitch".

    6. ShadowDragon8685

      Re: Personal anti-favourite-

      "Making portions smaller means that fatties will buy two."

      No. No, it does not. Portion control is one of the most desperately-needed anti-obesity measures. Along with in-your-face, unable-to-not-see-it "This is how many calories are in this if you order it" labeling.

      One of the very, very few things most people WILL NOT DO at a restaurant is order seconds. One of the fast food joints actually commissioned a study back in the day WRT how to get more business. The guy who did the study found that people wanted more food (IE, they weren't feeling satisfied by the fast food meals,) but that they didn't want to go back for seconds for fear of shame of being seen as a glutton. He reached the conclusion that by increasing portion size, people would be more satisfied with that restaurant's meals over those of their competitors, and thus, they would get more business.

      Of course, they promptly ignored him, but when the idea was revisited in the '80s or early '90s, well, things went crazy. And that's why an American "Medium" drink is the smallest size they sell, and is the same as a European "huge," while an American "big gulp" is a European "oh my god, you're actually going to drink that? You madman!"

      1. Kiwi Silver badge

        Re: Personal anti-favourite-

        "Making portions smaller means that fatties will buy two."

        No. No, it does not. Portion control is one of the most desperately-needed anti-obesity measures. Along with in-your-face, unable-to-not-see-it "This is how many calories are in this if you order it" labeling.

        I have to agree - I won't buy two unless 1 is so far below a meal that I will soon be hungry.

        Most of the time portion sizes are an issue, but along with exercise. I know someone who has huge portions - his dinners are almost more than what I eat in an entire day (and I suspect often are more), but he is a lot leaner than I am because he does a lot more basic exercise (things like walking) than I do.

        But the real issue is the labelling. I used to smoke. Almost before I was born "tobacco advertising" was banned in NZ. It did not stop me. I watched my father die from emphysema - in fact at the moment he was coughing his lungs out for the last time I was elsewhere telling someone that they would quit smoking if they could see him at that moment. That did not stop me.

        We got the health warnings. I didn't stop. We got the small pictures of diseased eyes, gunk from clogged arteries, destroyed blood vessels in the eyes. i did not stop. Larger pictures. I did not stop.

        I did not take any account of the packaging, other than to determine if I was looking at my favoured brand. The reason I stopped is for health and finances - and I used Allan Carr's "Only way to stop smoking" to do so.

        The packaging was no issue for me. And having calories etc on the packages would not do anything. 1, I would be unlikely to look at the packages. I can only tell you that the main colour of the chips (crisps for those of UK bent I believe) I eat often is red, no idea what pictures etc on it. I will not look at the numbers and even if I did, they would not mean anything. So this chocolate bar contains 4,000megacalories. Is it tasty and will it alleviate my current chocolate craving?

        People don't willingly ignore the packaging. We just don't notice them. Getting fat is something that happens a little at a time. I ate a chocolate bar yesterday and had no ill effects, I can do so today. The label has big letters that tell me this is enough chocolate to feed a family of 5 for a month, but it tastes good and I love the texture. And I felt great afterwards!

        Labelling won't work.

    7. kiwimuso
      Facepalm

      Re: Personal anti-favourite-

      @ hplasm

      Yeah, but it means that us normal folks then can eat all of a portion without feeling stuffed, or have more than one course.

      I've never understood the rationale of a restaurant which has starters, mains (or entrees if you are American) and desserts of making portions so huge that people are put off having 3 courses.

      Which reminds me of the first meal I had in Texas the day I arrived to work for an airline based around DFW. I was taken to a Bennigans Bar & Grill. First night living in the U.S. I've gotta have something typically American I thought - other than burgers. Cajun Chicken for $8. Just the thing I thought. It arrived with TWO whole chicken breasts mounded on it plus, I counted (and this is VERY rare for an American restaurant) 8 different vegetable. Vegetables! What were they thinking!! 2 different sorts of potatoes though. The ubiquitous fries and mashed (whipped) I seem to remember.

      Having also come from a background where you don't waste food, I ate the lot. I soon learned about portion control in the U.S. - or seemingly lack of it.

      Also reminds me of another Texas tale. We subscribed to Texas Highways magazine which purported to show Texas' apparent beauty. I was struck by an advert for a steak restaurant up in the Texas panhandle (near Lubbock I believe). The big attraction of their menu was a steak dish which if the customer managed to completely eat together with all the trimmings, would get it free. The size of the steak was - wait for it - 72 oz. That is to say, 4 1/2 lbs or just over 2 kilos of meat - in ONE serving.

      As I said at the time when I read it, in most other countries that's a fucking family roast!!!

  5. BrendHart

    Shrinkflation

    Here in South Africa, with the tanking economy we are suffering from the exact opposite. Portion sizes are decreasing as prices go up. We have a particularly interesting case with Nestle's Bar One. 20 years ago we had one size, which was 150grams. Since then the chocolate bar has shrunk down to 55 grams without seeing a price drop. About five years ago they reintroduced the 150gram Bar One calling it a "Giant" size. This "Giant" size bar has now shrunk down to 100grams. It's all somewhat absurd.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Shrinkflation - Peperami

      Good point - I reckon even here in Blighty that Peperami sticks are now about half the length they used to be. Or am I imaging it?

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Shrinkflation - Peperami

        And Wagon wheels.

        In 1980 I used to eat them with a knife and fork.

        (ok, I was 8, but I'm sure they're not as big as they used to be).

        1. dogged

          Re: Shrinkflation - Peperami

          Even Wagon Wheels are as nothing compared to the sad decline of the Curly Wurly.

          And Mars Bars and Marathons (fuck you and your Snickers) get smaller every year while they release a more expensive one the same size as the old one. Now they've got to the stage where the supersize - ie, same as the old one - version is actually two of the new ones in one packet.

          1. Fihart

            Re: Shrinkflation - Peperami

            Oddly, Mars of all the brands seem to have maintained quality, though reflected in higher prices and smaller sizes.

            I will no longer purchase chocolate by Cadbury (now Kraft/Mondelez) nor Nestle's ex-Rowntree brands.

            But Mars Galaxy, if a bit too sweet, is a match for Kraft/Mondelez Milka bar (ex-Suchard Melka) -- decent chocolate at a reasonable price.

          2. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: Shrinkflation - Peperami

            You know, I've not seen a curly wurly since the 80's.

            I seem to remember these were around 60cm if not longer...

            Yorkie used to have that add with a supermarionation character dislocating his jaw trying to eat one. Now, they're no bigger than a dairy milk.

            1. Your alien overlord - fear me

              Re: Shrinkflation - Peperami

              Still on sale in Spar. Both normal 'stick' and bag o' bits versions. But yes, back on topic. Even the stick vesion is smaller than I remember, when I was smaller that is.

        2. Ian Emery Silver badge

          Re: Shrinkflation - Peperami

          Go visit the musium of retail packaging (yes, there is such a thing), and you will see how HUGE Wagon Wheels were, ditto Curly Whirlys and loads of other things.

          Ré bread, nope, giving it up doesnt always help ( I cant eat bread due to a yeast reaction).

          I blame all the crap being added to food, it irritates the intestines and causes bloat; I do wonder how many people with IBS are reacting to palm/olive oil or something similar.

          My quacks have been refusing to diagnose my stomach issues for years, so I took the plunge and tried some IBS meds a few weeks ago; not only do I feel a lot less discomfort, but the seemingly unstoppable weight gain has been reversed and I have managed to lose weight for the first time in nearly four years.

          1. Mephistro Silver badge

            Re: Shrinkflation - Peperami

            "how many people with IBS are reacting to palm/olive oil"

            Just wanted to point out that you won't see much olive oil in prepared foods (due to cost), and probably close to zero good quality olive oil. Which is a pity, as good quality olive oil is usually considered the most healthy vegetable fat. It includes vitamins and is almost totally non-allergenic, and is one of the fats most resistant to heat and oxidation.

            1. Ian Emery Silver badge

              Re: Shrinkflation - Peperami

              My stomach and intestines react strongly to olive oil - gut wrenching pain for hours. In my house it has been reserved for cleaning paint brushes only.

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Shrinkflation

      This is happening a lot in the UK too. I dont know where these researchers went but in my experience the portions at the supermarket and restaurants aint big or in some cases adequate. I enjoy eating at home more as we can cook decent portions much cheaper.

      1. Mephistro Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Shrinkflation (@ codejunky)

        "...the portions at the supermarket and restaurants aint big or in some cases adequate."

        I've been saying for years that this "Nouvelle Cuisine" is EVIL!!!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shrinkflation

      Corporations are all about cutting costs which means reducing, not increasing the size of their products. Something's gone wrong with this research.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: Shrinkflation

        They are reducing the size of bulk products like the pound of coffee I used to buy is now ten ounces but the size of individual portions of prepared food have increased. Granted it's largely the result of adding fillers with associated fat and carbs so that while the size and caloric value of let's call it a hamburger patty has increased the amount of actual meat in it has decreased. Of course the fact that it's lubed with a quart of some orange pseudo mayonnaise like condiment to help you choke it down and hide the actual flavor doesn't help much.

    4. Fihart

      Re: Shrinkflation

      Nestle -- jeez. Recently bought (ex-Rowntrees) Munchies. Used to be generous cubes of decent chocolate with soft toffee and biscuit inside. Nestle version; small powdery cubes of brown stuff with accidental holes in it -- suggestion of biscuit and toffee.

      I've actually written to complain about what they did to (ex Welgar) Malted Shreddies. Now just called Original Shreddies which, for lack of maltiness, they certainly are not. No response, of course.

      Have started avoiding anything now bearing the Nestle logo on the assumption that they have ruined it.

  6. AndrueC Silver badge
    Unhappy

    And of course reducing the portion size of ready meals will have the added benefit of reducing the price.

    Stop laughing in the back!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      True.

      However, also consider that if these highly processed foods start to become "bad value" for money, it might encourage more people to start cooking more fresh meals at home.

      That could only be a good thing, right?

      1. DropBear Silver badge
        Facepalm

        "That could only be a good thing, right?"

        Yes, and if we'd just stopped selling gas and discontinued public transport, more people would start jogging to work. It's win-win!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "if we'd just stopped selling gas"

          That day will come eventually. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow...

  7. Pen-y-gors Silver badge
    Pint

    Yes but, no, but...

    "Well, our own professional research shows that the average size of a pint has varied exactly 0 per cent since 1993"

    Technically true, but have you tried buying a pint of beer in a bottle recently? What LOOKS like a pint bottle, and what fits nicely in what LOOKS like a pint glass is always actually 500ml, which most definitely isn't a pint.

    Very disappointed when I worked that out. However, as I'm on holiday this week, staying about 30 yards from a lovely pub selling the wonderful Three Tuns on draught (in straight pint glasses of course) I'm happy for the time being!

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Yes but, no, but...

      Depends on whether you like your pub pint with a head on it or not. Down South you probably get 550ml in a pint glass (rim glasss). Up North where they use special hardware to make sure of a nice creamy head, you may be getting as little as 500ml. To be fair, they tend to charge less for it!

      1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

        Re: Yes but, no, but...

        > Up North where they use special hardware to make sure of a nice creamy head,

        It can be done with the wrist action too. I once amazed a visiting team by pulling pints of IPA alternately with heads and no heads depending on the accent of those that had said they wanted a pint of it. Prejudice I realise but I was quite happy to change the style on request.

        1. Mephistro Silver badge

          Re: Yes but, no, but...(@ DaC)

          I learnt that trick too. Handy at parties. :)

      2. Gomez Adams

        Re: Yes but, no, but...

        Not really. They are larger glasses with a line marked to the pint level and then room for the head.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yes but, no, but...

          aye and you can ask for a flake if they fuck it up.

      3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Yes but, no, but...

        When I lived in the North East, where they appeared to love an inch or more of froth on their beer, it was normal to have a tall glass to accommodate the head, eventually being marked with a line indicating a pint.

        There were lots of discussions (well, often arguments really) about this, especially before the line was introduced, and also about 'measured' pints from metered taps which delivered half-a-pint on a single press of the button, but unless it's changed, there was legislation about how much head was allowed in a brim-fill glass before it was considered a short measure.

        I personally could not stand chemical pints, delivered by gas, with a large head (I shudder at the memory of beers from the Federation Brewery), and I even learned how to pour Newcastle Brown without much of a head. And wondered in bafflement when the breweries came up with the "widget", to get a big head on canned beer.

        BTW. Unlike a lot of real-ale drinkers, I did not like Guinness as a fall-back if a pub did not have a decent beer, precisely because of the head. It's all a bit moot now. I rarely drink anything at all, mainly because I don't get the chance to go out, and don't drink at home. Sad, really.

        1. Vic

          Re: Yes but, no, but...

          I personally could not stand chemical pints, delivered by gas

          Have you tried Key Keg beer?

          The beer is held in a bladder, so when the vessel is pressurised, the gas does not touch the beer at all. The result is a beer delivered undeer pressure, but not artificially carbonated.

          The only downside is that it is more expensive - the kegs are non-reusable, and quite expensive.

          Vic.

    2. Dazed and Confused Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Yes but, no, but...

      I was just about to up vote you then you said

      > (in straight pint glasses of course)

      New flangled things.

      Proper beer in a proper glass is what I say. None of these Noniks or conical things, Jugs are what we need!

      Oh sod it, have an upvote anyway for highlighting a major problem.

      Mind there is a bigger one, the reverse of the travesty you mention, I got given some beer glasses (not proper jugs) recently only to discover they are 500ml and so a pint won't fit!

      1. Vic

        Re: Yes but, no, but...

        I got given some beer glasses (not proper jugs) recently only to discover they are 500ml and so a pint won't fit!

        Get yourself a festival glass. They're oversized, so a pint is at least quarter of an inch below the rim, and they're marked for half and full pint...

        Vic.

  8. Stumpy Pepys

    It's a convincing finding

    When McDonalds first opened, a Coke was 7oz / 200 ml; now you can buy many multiples of that in a single cup.

    Thing is, do governments have the balls to stand up to the global food industry? I'm reminded of when the mayor of New York tried to limit portions of soda and ended up in court. (The food and drink industry won.)

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: It's a convincing finding

      But don't worry....

      All those super secret investor state dispute settlement clauses in the TPP are just fine.

    2. Nigel 11

      Re: It's a convincing finding

      With regard to fizzy drinks, the drinks manufacturers shouldn't care much if the government puts a whopping great tax on sugar-filled ones. There are "diet" formulations that are calorie-free. There are natural fruit-flavoured drinks which are almost calorie-free and free from any unnatural chemicals. Give consumers a strong nudge through the price mechanism, and they'll buy something cheaper and healthier.

      It would be a good start. And any legal challenge would surely fail - there's a long history of governments taxing anything and everything, with far less justification.

      1. launcap Silver badge

        Re: It's a convincing finding

        > There are natural fruit-flavoured drinks which are almost calorie-free and

        > free from any unnatural chemicals

        Really? I've yet to find one! (Diabetic, despise the taste of saccarine/aspartame/sucralose. Don't mind the taste of xlyitol but it has an unfortunate effect on the gut..)

        And I've yet to find a fruit-juice that was almost calorie free - most of them have a far worse effect on blood glucose than eating the amout of fruit required to make the juice.

        More info desired.

  9. I_am_Chris

    Home cooking anyone?

    There an even easier solution than depending on the cooperation of supermarkets, whose interests are opposite so yours: make you're own bleeding food!

    This way you can make whatever size you want.

    Christ. This kind of research only gets airplay because of 'Cambridge'. I'd bet if it had come out of any other Uni (except Oxford) it would have got the attention it deserved: none.

    1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Home cooking anyone?

      Double upvote for this. There have never been so many programmes on TV demonstrating every aspect of cooking, with more than a few offering recipes even the most hard-up, or inexperienced could tackle.

      Yet the supermarkets are stuffed with aisle upon aisle of "ready meals" whose tempting packaging belies the mediocrity of their contents. What the hell is going on?

      Good point on the research. If it had come out of Hull etc., it would either be ignored or lampooned - "boffins get paid money for writing common sense" etc.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Home cooking anyone?

        Parents leave home at 7:30, drop off kids at nursery/child minder at 8, go to work, pick up kids at 6pm, get home 6:30 - I suspect by Thursday those ready meals / take-outs are starting to look attractive.

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Home cooking anyone?

      "I'd bet if it had come out of any other Uni (except Oxford) it would have got the attention it deserved: none."

      Apart from yesterdays rabid feminist anti-fembot drivel out of De Montfort, obviously?

      (yes, I can remember what happened yesterday, none more surprised than me)

    3. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Home cooking anyone?

      I'm all for home cooking but it's not as easy cooking for one as it is for two, four and even more. There are a whole number of things which end up pushing singles and couples towards ready meals.

      I don't think it's necessarily how much we're eating but what we are eating and how the food is being processed and treated. Everything seems to have one bucket of salt, two buckets of sugar in it these days, and a dictionary of E numbers on the label. At least it isn't quite as bad in the UK as it is in America.

      Having lost the factory canteen, what we need to revive are "proper cafes" serving decent and healthy home cooked meals at a reasonable price. Oh how I miss those. I have often thought it would be great if someone could start a home cooked 'meals on wheels' service. If we can do take-away for no end of crap we should be able to manage it for decent food. That no one has perhaps shows what a deep problem we have.

      1. Vic

        Re: Home cooking anyone?

        it's not as easy cooking for one as it is for two, four and even more

        It is if you've got a freezer.

        Vic.

        1. phil dude
          Thumb Up

          Re: Home cooking anyone?

          and a plan of meals for the month ;-)

          P.

  10. alain williams Silver badge

    How big a portion do you need ?

    What you need depends on how big you are anyway; an 8 stone lady will want to eat less than a 16 stone man. The only portion sizing that is common today is adult/child. So if they reduce portions are not larger people (who might well not be overweight) go hungry?

    So will we see small/medium/large portions in restaurants ? If we do I would expect them to be priced differently and unfairly since the cost of the chow raw ingredients is generally a small part of the cost of a meal.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: How big a portion do you need ?

      In a real restaurant (with a few exceptions) the cost of the ingredients is a very small fraction of the cost of a meal. So why not ask for a large portion if you're a hungry large male, and a small one if you are a small lady who isn't very hungry. They'll probably oblige (at least with the small!)

      Of course, in a fast food joint or a pseudo-restaurant, they can't do that because all the kitchen is doing is heating up something pre-assembled in a factory and stored in their freezer. One size stuffs all.

      1. ShadowDragon8685

        Re: How big a portion do you need ?

        Speaking from personal experience, (the plural of anecdote is not data, I know,) it is VERY HARD to get the restaurant staff to understand you want LESS FOOD than they are prepared to serve you for a given price. I have this problem on rare occasions I go out to eat.

        For instance, about the lightest breakfast I can order at my local diner is three basted eggs, two pieces of toast, and a breakfast side, which I usually get as cottage cheese.

        Last time I went, though, I was feeling kind of full from having eaten a bit more the day before than I wanted to, so I wanted to just skip the side entirely and have my eggs on toast. So I told the waitress "no side, no special potatoes" which are the default side.

        Special potatoes, by the way, is basically an entire potato, cut into chunks and fried hard, with a metric tonne of garlic. They're sooooooo tasty, and so, so terrible for you, a gigantic pile of empty carbs and calories.

        I didn't want them, because I knew I didn't NEED more than the eggs and the toast (and the toast was being generous, since they always pre-butter it.) So I made SURE the waitress knew I DID NOT WANT THE SIDE.

        She brings it out to me, and yep, there's special potatoes on it. I wound up eating half the damn things, and I checked them on My Fitness Pal, half the potatoes added up to 3/4ths of the calorie count of two slices of buttered rye and three basted eggs put together.

    2. Efros

      Re: How big a portion do you need ?

      I see this problem everyday in our school cafeteria, you have a 13 stone chap sitting next to a 8 stone chap/chappess with their school lunch, which has been 'scientifically' put together to contain the correct amount of nutrition and calories for who??? The 13 stoner sits and looks at the mouthful he has on his plate with a faint air of disappointment.

      1. DocJames
        Coat

        Re: How big a portion do you need ?

        Most of these 13 stone chaps you describe are overweight. The only reason you don't recognise this is as society as a whole has become dramatically heavier.

        If you want a laugh, 3 men in a boat is 1) funny and 2) describes an overweight man of 12 stone or so. For a less literary (and less humourous) approach, compare and contrast any crowd now with 30 years or more ago (google images means you don't even have to move from your computer).

        And finally, the sensible approach for these aforementioned 13 stone chaps is to reduce calorie intake in order to get to a healthy weight...

        My coat? Why thank you, it's the same size as when I was 21.

  11. knarf

    CRAZY TALK

    Next they will suggest that beer should be served in half pints. What are we hobbits!!

  12. RichardB

    Learned behaviours

    So we spent our childhoods being told we had to finish what was on the plate... now we finish whatever is on the plate.

    Solution? Put less on the plate - or stop the ludicrous brainwashing in the first place - stop when you feel you might be nearly full?

    On the same track, stop saying this garbage about 'its what's inside that counts', 'do what makes you happy', 'be honest in your dealings' and 'you can't take it with you'... that way we might still have some taxpayers in 30 years time.

  13. wowfood

    I don't know

    For ready meals I'm happy enough for the portions to stay around where they are, most are pretty low cal still and aren't all that filling (Unless you include the hungry joes ready meals)

    I would however, like to see more packages of refrigerated things come in smaller portions. I'm a single guy living in a small flat. And yet I can only buy belly pork in packs of 8 when I only want 2 pieces, I can only buy pork chops in packs of 3 or 4. Hell I can only buy a pint of milk at the smallest, when what I want is a load of those 250ml bottles so I can stick them in the freezer (if anyone UK based knows a supermarket that sells those 250ml bottles to the public, please let me know)

    And yes I am aware that I could just cook what I need and freeze the rest, but I prefer having fresh meat fresh, rather than frozen thawed, it just isn't the same.

    1. Tromos

      Re: I don't know

      Even when things come in reasonable sizes for single people, many of the big chain supermarkets have a jacked-up price for the item which is mitigated by a nice big discount for buying two (the BOGOF being the extreme case). The discounters who are eating into their lunch don't seem to feel the need to do this. No I don't want two packets of ham for £4. Equally, I'm not prepared to pay £2.95 for one. It isn't just the sale of the ham they lose out on because if I'm forced to go to Aldi or Lidl, I may as well do the rest of my shop there too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I don't know

        > No I don't want two packets of ham for £4.

        Go to a real butcher. You'll get better ham, and only have to buy it by the slice.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I once reduced my weight by a whopping 10kg drinking a blended smoothie of wheat and hops. Trouble is they stopped serving them after 11 and i quickly put the weight back on.

  16. Little Mouse

    Social stigma?

    I remember those "ready meals" of 20 years or more ago. The range was not great, microwaveable lasagna and the like - and a "meal for two" only really contained enough food for one (A large one, admittedly, but the meals for one were noticeably small)

    I always thought the reason for that was because it was harder for the manufacturers to shift meals for one due to the social embarrassment of standing in the checkout queue with nothing but a microwave spag bol for ONE (Look at the Sad & Lonely Person Who Has No Friends!!!). Just call it a "Meal for Two" - problem sorted.

    Hence the skewed portion-size figures over time.

  17. Matthew 17

    Wagonwheels?

    So our food gets smaller, the price stays the same.

    The super size will not be quite as super.

    If you don't want to be fat, don't eat that shit, cook a meal at home, it's cheaper.

  18. Esme

    Yes to smaller food portion

    It's quite definitely true that quite a lot of foodstuffs are packaed in portions that are just too flippin' large. It's not uncommon for me to have to make a decision to either only eat half of something today and then eat teh other half tomorrow, or otherwise scoff the lot and try to remember to eat less the rest of the day (or eat much less the following day). Except that the latter doesn't work too well, unfortunately, and the former isn't always a sensible option (ever lived in a rented flat with a dodgy fridge?). And it's all very well saying cook stuff yourself - I do most of the time- but until all compnents of a meal are readily available in whatever quantity you want, or otherwise, in sensible single-portion sizes, it just isn't quite that easy.

    Yes, what's in the food matters a lot, and the food industry filling our food with sugar and salt has a lot to answer for there, and yes, self-control matters a lot - but the problem there is that once good habits have been well and truly broken, by whatever means (stress, boredom,over-availability of food, whatever,some combination of the preceding), it's an absolute swine to break the bad habits whilst dealing with the problem that caused them as well as lose the weight gained at one and the same time. The more so if you're middle aged or older and not so physically active as you used to be (Hmmn.. I remember local leisure centres - used to be able to do a range of physical activities in those, wonder what happened to them? Oh, I remember - closed and redeveloped.. No more swimming for me, as a result! :-( )

    So anyway - sure, it's not the ful solution - but smaller portion sizes is definitely a part of the solution, IMHO.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plates matter

    I bought some crockery many years ago, bought some replacements recently and the "normal" plate size seems to have increased by around 3-6cm (diameter).

    Here's a little exercise (probably banned on the comments) but we could post our "normal" plate size. Some stude' could then work out the area offered for a normal adult meal.

    I try to keep using the old plates as I'm shamed by having to stack.

    1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

      Re: Plates matter

      Area alone wouldn't result in a very good approximation though. Pancakes, which those strange transatlantic types consider to be a breakfast food, can be stacked much higher than peas, which I consider to be a breakfast food.

    2. Tromos

      Re: Plates matter

      Blame the plate size increases on the poncy chefs that have made it fashionable to serve tiny meals surrounded by a foot of empty plate.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Plates matter

        I considered a few of these, though stacking peas seems very Zen.

        Perhaps a questionnaire would have to include

        Do you use a side-plate?

        Is the side-plate for chips?

        Is the side-plate really bigger than the main plate?

        Can you stack pees?

        Are you a ponce?

  20. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Smaller portions will not work.

    I was in a rather good (and cheap) Indian restaurant one evening when about a dozen suited and booted and designer dressed people turned up. They'd been to Hintlesham Hall in its designer food days and they all sat and ate as much as they could manage. The Indian meal for all of them cost them less than a main course for one at the hall but a popadom had more volume to it.

    As others have pointed out we need to reject certain foods - glucose fructose syrup gives me the munchies by 9am but a home made jam with sucrose in it on my breakfast toast leaves me happy till lunchtime.

    A pint of tap water before meals works wonders too.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Smaller portions will not work.

      glucose fructose syrup

      Now on my won't buy list, along with margarine/ hydrogenated fats (trans fat sources).

      Name one natural source of sugar that is 50% glucose. I don't believe there is one. When a plant wants to store energy in the short term it packages glucose up into sucrose or other di- and poly-saccharides. For the long term, it uses long saccharide polymers we call starch. When a plant wants its fruit to be eaten, it sweetens it with (mostly) fructose (which is a sort of cheating: it's six times sweeter than sucrose, so the plant only has to give away one-sixth as much of its energy stores! )

      Glucose is immediately accessible for metabolism, and ingesting any significant amount of it is a serious whack to your metabolism. Sucrose or starch is less damaging because your body has to process it to release glucose (and fructose), which is what they do in a factory to make that syrup out of corn or similar starch.

      There's also the possibility that chemical-plant processing of starch creates significant quantities of other saccharide stereo-isomers that are rare in nature. Same problem as trans fats in margarine. Stereochemisty *matters* to life, a fact which the public health authorites were very slow to wake up to.

      I expect that when they get to the bottom of the diabetes epidemic, glucose or artificial saccharides will prove to be the cause, rather than just any sugar, just as trans fats were the source of much heart disease, rather than just any fat.

      1. launcap Silver badge

        Re: Smaller portions will not work.

        > bottom of the diabetes epidemic, glucose or artificial saccharides

        Part of the problem is that pretty much *any* carbohydrate that you eat will get eventually converted into glucose (or excreted). So, the thing is to look at glycaemic load rather than glycaemic index (GL measures bioavailability over time - so eating 3 apples is better than drinking the juice of 3 apples because your body has to work much harder to extract the carbs and break them down for use whereas the juicing has already done most of the work and your blood glucose rise isn't so much a curve as a vertical line..)

      2. phil dude
        Boffin

        Re: Smaller portions will not work.

        Glucose is the primary energy source for mammalian cells. Blood glucose is tightly regulated and the hormone insulin signals fat cells to immediately remove the glucose from the blood. If you are not diabetic (or prediabetic), glucose should not give you any problems (although the microbes in your gut might like it - strangely not E.coli...).

        Sucrose is one molecule of glucose bound to a fructose molecule. Fructose must be metabolised by the liver and deposited as fat. All (well, most) of the more complex carbohydrates (polymers of many other sugars) need enzymatic (or microbial) degradation in order for the energy producing cells (our mitochondria) to be able to extract energy.

        Diabetes is the inability to modulate blood glucose. This occurs in 2 major ways. Loss of insulin expression due to autoimmune damage (Type I). Insulin resistance due to the repurposing of cells to handle other metabolites (Type II).

        With HFCS the ratio of glucose/fructose (40/60) forces the liver to become fructose efficient and less "glucose precursor for complex carbs", and therefore insulin no longer has the same effect as the liver captures all of the "sugar" as fat. (remember glucose needs no intermediate metabolism, it can be used in almost every cell in our body).

        If you want to get a "biochemical" sense of what this all means, look at the nutrition of an apple versus any processed food of the same volume- the higher density using pure compounds versus the cellular substrate of the apple. Squeeze an orange and see how much juice you get!

        The modern crisis with obesity is directly due to the bias in the media reporting the problem. HFCS is pushed by a corn lobby here and it is used as a cheap sweetener. The FDA publishes recommended calorie intakes which are massively out of date( and possibly a conflict of interest?). If you are overweight, you can get your metabolism directly measured, and that number is your personal target.

        If you exercise below the aerobic limit, your body will preferentially start to burn fat (e.g walking). If you exercise above the aerobic limit, your body has to burn glycogen (how glucose is stored).

        For every 1lb of fat extra, that is 3500 kCals of energy. Energy required to run 26.2 miles (a marathon) , approx 3500 kCals. But if you walk for 4 hours , you might burn 2000 kCals. Pretty amazing? Well humans have evolved to be efficient runners and not walkers - that is we get running for proportianately less than the effort to start walking.

        if you are overweight and you are *able* to exercise, then diet and exercise works every time -that's physics.

        if you are overweight and *unable* to exercise, then diet control is primary, however *any* exercise is better than none.

        There is a lot we do not yet understand about human physiology. But in this case, the attempts to confuse the issue with "who is to blame". We all are. If you don't buy crap food, they won't sell it. But that also means you don't give it to your kids.

        Industry may be guilty of selling toxic crap, but we are the ones buying it. It is up to *US* to find the correct diet/exercise regime for *OUR* bodies.

        P.

      3. graeme leggett

        Re: Smaller portions will not work.

        Fructose is a bit less than twice as sweet as sucrose. However its sweetness profile (sweetness versus time when tasted) is different.

        Many of the sweeteners, natural and artificial, have synergistic effects. Mix two together and get something sweeter than the sum of the parts.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Soooo

    What they're actually saying is eat Mars Bars, Quality Street and Creme Eggs?

    Portion sizes of those tasty little devils have shrunk year on year thus helping combat the 'obesity epdemic'/

  22. Quip

    MYOB

    Why don't all these busybodies just shut up. I eat what I want, when I want, nobody's business if I do.

  23. paulf Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Doggy bag

    As said above - making portions smaller means fatties will buy two.

    If you are eating out and have more food on your plate than you can reasonably finish then ask the waiting staff to pack it up to take away with you. You can then have it for lunch the next day. I understand Chefs much prefer to package up left overs for diners to take home with them than see the food they've cooked get chucked in the bin. I've never had a problem having my left overs packed up like this and the staff are normally happy to do it.

    If you're eating at home you can always do the same - pop left overs in the fridge for the next day.

  24. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    Lets get this perfectly clear - food manufacturers have NO interest in making helthy food.

    Their only duty is to their shareholders or owners who require maximum return for their investment. They also know that to increase palatability they should add as much sugar, fat and salt as possible. Make your own food from raw ingredients - you can't make is as bad for you as the food industry.

  25. Marcus Fil

    I blame Hitler

    Okay how many Brits have been to the good ol' USA? Seen the portion sizes? It seems all, but the most snobbiest, establishments seem to equate quantity with value for money. Of course, with waiting staff living largely on tips, and lower transportation costs, US establishments can afford competitively larger portions. However, watch the average 'joe' eating; by average, I specifically mean not the spherical, trailer trash, morbidly obese specimens visible on Google Earth. Average Americans are content to leave half a starter, pick over a main, scrape the top off of a desert and, maybe, ask for a doggy bag. Why?

    Perhaps food is just cheaper with respect to higher disposable income, but also when did the USA have food rationing? A generation of Brits were brought up to finish everything on their plate because there was a war on. They passed this sentiment to their children who in turn have maintained it until it has passed into social norm. The simplistic cure is smaller plates, smaller portions and, for restaurants, smaller bills. However, the real challenge is educating people to eat according to their needs and not simply consuming whatever is served up to them. To illustrate the ludicrousness of the current catering situation one Italian restaurant chain offers a 'lower calorie' alternative to several dishes at a higher price; so ordering the normal version and simply not eating all of it, and saving some money, could never be an option then?

    1. Little Mouse

      Re: I blame Hitler

      Hitler does tend to get a lot of bad press, and I've seen him blamed for all manner of nasty things, but never the current obesity epidemic.

      +1 to you, sir.

    2. Irony Deficient
      1. Marcus Fil

        Re: I blame Hitler

        Well bang goes that theory then - although I still blame Hitler.

  26. jimbo60

    journalism, please?

    You forgot to report the most important fact...the cost of this brilliant study. I bet that wasn't a reduced portion.

  27. mstreet

    When you eat....

    ...can be almost as important as what. There was a time when I exercised daily, and ate 2 meals a day + the occasional snack.

    I now eat 3 times per day like clockwork, barely exercise, have a slowing metabolism (friendly way of saying "getting old"), and weigh less now than before.

    This is why starvation diets don't work. Any time you go too long without eating, your body goes into starvation mode, and stores more calories as fat. With a few exceptions, I eat quite a bit more than many people I know, exercise less, yet am considerably smaller. It drives my fat friends bonkers.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can't make a conclusion on your own observations

    I'm in my late 40's, 1m86 and 69kg (BMI; 20). Since I was 19, I've ALWAYS been 69kg (well, ok, sometimes 68, sometimes 70). I eat as much as I want (sometimes a lot, sometimes less), I really REALLY pay no attention whatsoever to what I eat or drink (and I've been having my fair share of beer when I was a student and in the decade that followed). I do run or play tennis or swim or bike once a week. I've lost my job and sat watching TV for a few months, didn't change. I broke my foot and sat still for 5 weeks, still didn't change (only lost 1kg of muscle in my legs). What can I say. Am I an expert at keeping my weight? Am I a hero? Am I qualified to give advice,? Not really. I'm just blessed.

  29. SoloSK71

    OMG OMG OMG fat shaming!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As someone who is currently, optimistically (haven't been back to the bariatric surgeon's to weigh in for a week, I go once a fortnight on tuesdays, so this is projecting ~3 lbs loss since Tuesday last), somewhere in the range of 330 lbs, and who was 447 on 22 March of this year, I can tell you that, frankly, fat people do need to be ashamed.

      And we need to be terrified. My GP finally talked me into talking to a surgeon, and he scared the living shit out of me, basically compared my weight to a tumor. So I've been eating as little as possible since then.

  30. msknight Silver badge

    Brian said it better...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xge3fzPKV6I

    ...and if you want a headache, someone did a remix. Yup, ten seconds of video and they turned it in to a mind wrecking 2:12 ...

    (warning, hazardous to ears) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3IOGqYRsL4

  31. HKmk23

    Use your common sense ( for those who have some)

    Do not eat any food that is pre processed in any way.....simple really, then you actually know what you are eating. Who says bread is good for you anyway? There is nothing more convenient than an apple or a raw carrot.....fresh fish or cooked eggs even chicken if you know it was raised free range (so no I am not a veggynutcase).

    1. ShadowDragon8685

      Re: Use your common sense? Common NONSENSE!

      "Use your common sense?" Really? "Actually know what you're eating?"

      You DO realize that packaged foods are required, by law, to actually state what's in it? And to give nutritional information on the packaging?

      The HARDEST things for me to eat is NON-packaged foods that don't come from a chain restaurant. Chain restaurants all provide nutrition information (most importantly, calorie count,) even if the numbers are astonishingly high, they at least give you a basis to say "Okay, I can eat half of this entree for lunch, and have the other half for lunch tomorrow."

      Whereas if you get it in a diner, or, say, get a raw carrot or apple, or "free range" chicken, you have basically no basis. Yesterday, I had a bowl of leftover pasta, chicken and broccoli penne from somewhere. (I dunno, I didn't order it, someone I live with did.) Checking My Fitness Pal, the possible calorie range for that was 225-510 calories.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Remember your mouth hole is bigger than your bum hole.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Won't work..

    Reducing portion sizes is what I've been doing for the last 10 years, I've reduced right down to one single bowl of cereal per day, that's in the morning when I get up, I eat no snacks, no main meal, no lunch etc etc, just that one bowl of cereal per day. And I STILL weigh 15 stone, though I did drop from 17 stone in about two months in the beginning but got to 15 and my weight just stopped moving years ago :(

    My BMI suggests I should be 9/10 stone for my height. But, I can't get that low no matter how I try. Heck my bones probably weigh more than that as I am very wide and quite literally do have "big bones". As did my dad, his dad, his dad before him etc.

    But people keep telling me to eat less, but if I eat any less I'll be eating nothing at all. I tried that too, but it caused me to get light headed and collapse to become unconscious haha so sadly that is not an option for me :-/

  34. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Yes make the food served more "healthy" (and good luck finding a definition of that which will survive the decades).

    But also inculcate the notion that you cane take half your meal back home in a take-out box without shame.

    My UK friends often make a big deal about the portion sizes here in NY, but most (not all) people will take some of that home for tomorrow's dinner or lunch.

    The idea that taking your paid-for food out of the restaurant is somehow wrong is foolish and a major incentive to binge eat.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019