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New Study Finds Larger Packaging Leads To Overeating

by Rudy Sanchez on 01/04/2022 | 2 Minute Read

If you’ve ever busted open a large bag of potato chips and munched away straight from the bag without noticing how many portions you’re really eating, you’re not alone. 

A study recently published in the American Journal of Public Health has found that packaging sizes and portions for “junk” and fast foods have changed little since 2002. Researchers also discovered that larger pieces of packaging encouraged consumers to overeat, resulting in increased rates of obesity.

Authors Lisa Young and Marion Nestle of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies from New York University found that foods packaging and portion sizes have increased from 2-to-5 fold since first introduced to the market. Coca-cola, for example, was initially offered in a 6.5-ounce bottle; now, the Atlanta-based soda maker offers Coca-Cola in single-sized packaging ranging from 7.5 to 24 fluid ounces. The study also notes that, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, nearly 74% of Americans are either overweight or obese. The authors previously found a parallel in the rise of obesity and bigger portions from a previous study back in 2002, and little has changed since then.

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Recommendations in the study include regulations that limit packaging sizes, eliminate oversized offerings, financially incentivize the purchase of smaller options, and restrict the marketing of large portions towards children. 

Finally, the authors note that educational campaigns aren't enough to address overeating, and public health officials have historically faced strong resistance to smaller portions from brands and consumers. New York City implemented a cap on soda sizes in 2012, which was quickly challenged and ultimately overturned in court.

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