Food Portions: How Much is Too Much?

Parents have been weighing in regarding whether the size of portions being served to children (and even to us as adults) in restaurants are larger than they should be, and whether they are contributing to the epidemic of kids (and adults) becoming overweight or obese.  Well, let me chew the fat on the subject of “portion distortion” and provide some information on this topic.

Overeating or supersizing our portions of saturated fats and sugars can not only contribute to excess weight gain, but also to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, bone and joint problems, and even heart disease and stroke.

Since kids will tend to eat what’s on their plates, and as portion sizes have gone up, so have the calories consumed.  While every food you buy now has a food label that tells you the serving size, this just tells you the calories and nutrients in a particular amount of food, but not necessarily how much should be served—and often the amount actually served is far greater than the serving size listed.  So how can you control the portion distortion and reduce the risk of your children overeating?  

Hopefully tips like this will portion out just the right amount of information when it comes to avoiding portion distortion.


Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. You can also catch "First with Kids" weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives at