debbie millman

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Portion Distortion

Liz Monte over at Divine Caroline has written an eye-opening article on Portion Distortion. "Over the past few decades, portion sizes of everything from muffins to sandwiches have grown considerably. Unfortunately, America’s waistbands have reacted accordingly. In the 1970s, around 47 percent of Americans were overweight or obese; now 66 percent of us are. In addition, the number of just obese people has doubled, from 15 percent of our population to 30 percent.

While increased sizes haven’t been the sole contributor to our obesity epidemic, large quantities of cheap food have distorted our perceptions of what a typical meal is supposed to look like. These portion comparisons, adapted from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI) Portion Distortion Quiz, give a visual representation of what sizes used to be compared to what they are today."

Some examples:

A Bagel
Then and Now

Then and Now

A Burger
Then and Now

Scary stuff. No wonder I can't fit into my jeans anymore.


Blogger Scott Perez-Fox said...

I agree, this is a bizarre phenomenon. I would like to hear the economic arguments as to why this has happened. Something to do with the cost of ingredients per the cost of shipping, perhaps. Either that or our obsession with "value for money" and increased popularity of cupholders in cars. (new minivans have at least 8)

5/28/2008 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Slant Six Creative said...

I wrote a post a few weeks ago that touched on this issue:

A "King Size" soda in the fifties was ten ounces. And it had sugar, not high fructose corn syrup.

I'd be willing to bet that people would respond positively if companies started marketing smaller sizes with more natural ingredients. Not to replace the larger sizes, but just as an alternative.

It's kind of weird that we don't even have the option.

5/28/2008 11:41:00 PM  
Blogger Social Network Web Design said...

Those figures (percentage of overweight or obese) is alarming.

5/29/2008 01:49:00 AM  
Blogger Mary Campbell said...

and what about clothes sizing for women? who the hell is a double-zero? why is there such a thing as XXXS? It is all such a mind-f*xck.

5/30/2008 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger minus five said...

it's definitely bad, but i've found it's way worse back home in texas and in oklahoma than it is up in ny. when i was down there a couple of weeks ago, we were out at a restaurant and i ordered these chicken tender things and they actually had the word "little" in the title. they brought me this freakin huge plate of chicken tenders. there were at least 20. and i giant cereal bowl of macaroni and cheese. i just started laughing. it would have been more than enough for three people! plus, you can get 1/2 gallon drinks in the drive thru.

smalls are mediums.
mediums are larges.
larges are extra-larges.

and i don't have proof, but i'm almost positive that clothing sizes have been changed so that we don't feel so bad.

mary: those XXXS people NEED the extra food. they also should be shopping in the kids department because you know it's cheaper.

6/01/2008 05:13:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

things i paint
things i photograph
design matters design matters poster designed by Firebelly
about me
My Photo
Location: new york city, United States

Debbie Millman has worked in the design business for over 25 years. She is President of the design division at Sterling Brands. She has been there for nearly 15 years and in that time she has worked on the redesign of global brands for Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Campbell’s, Colgate, Nestle and Hasbro. Prior to Sterling, she was a Senior Vice President at Interbrand and a Marketing Director at Frankfurt Balkind. Debbie is President of the AIGA, the largest professional association for design. She is a contributing editor at Print Magazine, a design writer at and Brand New and Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In 2005, she began hosting the first weekly radio talk show about design on the Internet. The show is titled “Design Matters with Debbie Millman” and it is now featured on In addition to “Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design,” (HOW Books, 2009, she is the author of "How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer" (Allworth Press, 2007) and “The Essential Principles of Graphic Design” (Rotovision, 2008).

things i do those i thank things i like current playlist