Micro-size me, please!
February 9th, 2012
11:39 AM ET

Micro-size me, please!

How many times have you been to the movie theater, ordered a regular-sized popcorn or soda and been asked, “Would you like a large for a quarter more?” What about ordering a sandwich at your local deli? "Make it a combo!" you probably say.

We’re trained early on, oftentimes by our parents, to clean our plates or no dessert. Frequently, regardless of how hungry we are, that’s exactly what we’ll do. 

Sure, the medium-sized popcorn would’ve been entirely satisfying, but if offered the larger portion, we’re going to take it and eat it – all of it.

This phenomenon, in part, is was what sparked a series of studies conducted at a fast-food Chinese restaurant on Tulane’s New Orleans campus.

The researchers conclude, in a study published in this month’s Health Affairs,  that up to one-third of customers accepted a verbal offer to downsize their lunch, regardless of whether they were offered a minor monetary incentive to do so. Customers who accepted the downsized meals ate, on average, 200 fewer calories than did those who ordered the full-sized meals.

The truth of the matter is this: most Americans overeat, particularly the bad stuff. Recent attempts to list calories at chain and fast-food restaurants hasn’t seemed to make much of a difference as to what consumers actually order once they reach the register.

Furthermore, research by Brian Wansink, the author of “Mindless Eating,” suggests that people tend to feel satiated only when their plates are empty, regardless of how much food is actually served. Additional evidence from other studies confirms the notion that much of our overeating is due to mindless consumption. 

This is all to say that ordering food in any type of restaurant has become an automatic behavior. It’s something we do so often, in fact, that we follow what behavioral scientists call a script.

“Stopping people while they order can disrupt the expected flow and activate self-control in an environment where it may otherwise be unlikely to be activated or is absent from consumers’ minds,” write the studies’ authors.

This awareness can mean a major difference in the amount of calories consumed. Take a McDonald’s Big Mac “value meal” for example. A Big Mac, small fries and small Coke adds up to 920 calories (according to McDonald's website). A Big Mac, large fries and large Coke, on the other hand, adds up to 1,350 calories, nearly 1.5 times the amount of the smaller, more sensible option.

"People want to feel like they're getting their money's worth," says CNN Eatocracy's Managing Editor Kat Kinsman. "If you get more food, you'll feel obligated to eat it, even if you don't want it."

The studies' authors hope that, in the future, consumers will consider "downsizing" just as often as "supersizing,"  though they suggest referring to the practice as "rightsizing."

"Such a term could suggest and reinforce the more appropriate norm. For example, while the term ‘downsize’ is somewhat negative and emphasizes reduced amounts, the term ‘rightsize’ is more positive and emphasizes the optimal quality,” according to the Health Affairs report. 

Still, in the end, "a smaller portion of not-great-for-you food is still you eating not-great-for-you food," says Kinsman. "I would gladly take a massive portion of something that's good for me. I would super-size those Brussels sprouts every single time."

soundoff (1,082 Responses)
  1. rick mendl

    Taking a class called Weigh Down Basics! Men testifying today about their weight loss at http://www.remnantfellowship.tv at 11 am cst

    February 9, 2012 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. i_know_everything

    it is nice to disseminate information about healthy living and exercising, but people need to take personal responsibility

    February 9, 2012 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Daniel

      The issue is cognitive bias. People want to eat correctly but our brains bias us towards mindless eating. As the author states, disrupting the script helps people to eat better. Nothing wrong with this.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:34 | Report abuse |
    • Audie

      @Daniel, nice point!

      February 9, 2012 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
  3. Aaron

    I have been saying this for years. Portion control, Portion control, portion control...its really that simple.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Slim Jim

      And the truth is.... it really is that simple....

      "if offered the larger portion, we’re going to take it and eat it – all of it."

      NO... not WE.... YOU, but ALOT of you... Just because today's portions are twice as big, that doesn't mean you need eat twice as much..... Eat half, save half for later.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:56 | Report abuse |
    • Nikki

      Yes. Even at Subway last night I ate half of my healthy sandwich. Because **the first half sated me***. My BMI is 20.5. I'm healthy because I choose to be. It is that easy. (BTW, I used to have a BMI of 33.7. I've been "healthy" since July 27, 2009.)

      February 9, 2012 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
  4. Lalalalalla

    When you order your food at Burger King they should inform you of the calories it represents. Then people might think about what they are eating...

    February 9, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hilary

      That's not Burger King's job. Their job is to create a product, market it, sell it and make a profit. It's YOUR job as the consumer to know what you're buying.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:18 | Report abuse |
    • Justin H.

      They do this in California and it is about bthe goofiest thing I have ever seen. If you are counting calories, you probablably should not eat a number 5 with bacon and extra cheese. If you do eat the number 5 and all, you probably don't care.

      When have you ever heard someone in line at a fast food joint say, "I thnk I will take the triple meat, extra cheese, super size onion rigs and apple pie" and then turn to next guy in line and say, "wow, I will need to put in some extra time on the tread mill this week." The reality is those are two different people...

      February 9, 2012 at 12:28 | Report abuse |
    • JT

      Give me a break! "That's not burger king's job" well if they want my business then they'd better make it thier job. Every single fast food company has a nutrition menu and it's darn near impossible to find it at the restaurant meaning you have to look up your meal beforehand.

      All of the calorie data is already tabulated, meaning it would be increadibly easy to write a program that spits out the exact number of calories based on the items ordered. It would show up as you ordered the food so you could change your mind if you saw that the "value meal" clocked in at 1500 calories.

      It's burger king's job to make you want to eat their food. They do this by providing CONVENIENCE. You could make a burger yourself but they do it for you. The same logic would apply with calculating the nutritional value of the food. I suppose following your line of thinking they shouldn't even have to tell you how many calories are in each item.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:36 | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      JT, you missed his point entirely. Most people who eat at Burger King and other such fast food joints aren't there to eat healthy. If you want something (relatively) healthy, how about Subway?

      February 9, 2012 at 12:45 | Report abuse |
    • mpouxesas

      ...when you order your food at Burger King...that alone there is the problem in your diet!

      February 9, 2012 at 12:46 | Report abuse |
    • drny

      In some municipalities, the menu must state the calorie content...

      February 9, 2012 at 12:56 | Report abuse |
    • Kana

      JT – obviously you're not new at eating fast food that you know you can find the nutritional information on the internet. Many fast food restaurants also provide the meal information if asked. Unless regulated (as in some locals) the nutritional info isn't going to be posted on the menu board behind the register.
      The information is available, it is the customer\consumer who is responsible to know about the products they purchase\consume.

      February 9, 2012 at 13:32 | Report abuse |
    • Rove's legacy

      @Hilary. And how would a consumer identify all the ingredients in enough detail to know what % fat in the meat or cheese, the oil used to cook, the method used to prepare, the sugar content of the drink, etc.?

      February 9, 2012 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
    • csam18

      Umm.. you're eating at a fast food place. Expect to be consuming Elephant sized calories.

      February 9, 2012 at 13:43 | Report abuse |
    • FattyLumpkin

      You American Pillsbury Dough Boys just need to stop stuffing your fat faces and get off the couch more.

      February 9, 2012 at 15:09 | Report abuse |
    • Ding

      When I first started working, I remember a bunch of us going to Wendy's at lunch and trying to eat the most calories...aiming for 2000. if the register spit out the total of our order on the receipt, that game would've gotten out of hand 🙂

      February 9, 2012 at 15:23 | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Those data are easily available. I have an app on my cell phone that can look up the data for most chain restaurants.

      February 9, 2012 at 15:44 | Report abuse |
    • SilentBoy741

      Maybe the drive-thru person should be able to look at you before they hand you your order, and say, "Oh, I don't think so" and give you a salad. I can't see how anyone would object to that...

      February 9, 2012 at 16:36 | Report abuse |
  5. Sara

    I can't see why I would downsize my meals. I generally eat half of what I'm served anyway, and take the rest home to eat for lunch the next day. In addition to portion control, it cuts the cost-per-meal in half.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hilary

      You're one iin 10 million. Most people hoover down everything in front of them; that's why North Americans are so overweight.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse |
    • denim

      Unfortunately, you're in the minority. I'd like to join you, but I rarely do it.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:22 | Report abuse |
    • SleepyHead

      Leftover Big Mac and French Fries? Gross....

      February 9, 2012 at 12:35 | Report abuse |
    • Primal

      North Americans are actually overweight from too many crabs from grains.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:40 | Report abuse |
    • Doitagain

      Wow, I didn't even know grain had crab in it! Learn something new every day...

      I always purposefully don't eat the last few bites of whatever it is im eating. I never clean my plate and pay attention to my body, so I know when to stop eating.

      February 9, 2012 at 13:07 | Report abuse |
    • RMJ

      I'm with you Sara, In fact, when I eat at a restaurant, I ask for a take home container when I order. Then, when the meal arrives, I put half of the food in the container and close it before I start eating. Sometimes I can get 2 additional meals with the amount of food restaurants puts on a plate.

      February 9, 2012 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
  6. Soulcatcher

    I'm diabetic. I always feel that I am starving except when I eat and take insulin (in fact if you look at my cells are starving). then a few hours later the feelling comes back.

    I like the idea behind this study but wish it would apply to me. My wife's tried this little trick. It doesn't work, I just need to take less insulin. But the starving feeling is still there.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • czerendipity

      Maybe you are a diabetic because of the way you eat? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? And before all of you go jumping down my throat, yes I know **some** diabetics inherit the genes and it will come up no matter what. But most (many more than you want to admit) exacerbate the problem with their poor diet or cause the disease entirely with their lifestyle choices.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:50 | Report abuse |
    • H2O

      sometimes that "starving feeling" is actually your body craving water. are you drinking enough water throughout the day?

      February 9, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
    • Mike C

      If you're starving, you just need to put something in your stomach. Next time, instead of a burger, why not try an apple. Or if you have a big stomach that needs filling, try a whole plate of green beans, 2 lbs worth. I guarentee that you won't be hungry after that. Don't worry about protein, the average American gets 2X the protein they need.

      February 9, 2012 at 13:04 | Report abuse |
    • bdog821

      @soulcatcher – Being a type 2 diabetic myself, I have run into the problem that you mention. The solution is to replace empty carbs with foods that are rich in nutrients such as fruits and vegetables. Your body will be satiated by these foods and you literally will not be able to consume too much of these types of foods since you will feel full more quickly. Empty carbs associated with processed foods are the enemy of type 2 diabetics and should generally be avoided if possible. Good luck.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:11 | Report abuse |
  7. Portland tony

    To me, it seems silly to watch or count your caloric uptake at a special event that maybe occurs once a month. First of all if you maintain a healthy diet the rest of the time, your stomach won't allow you to "put 10 lbs in a 2 lb sack. So as long as you don't make a habit of it....Get that large barrel of popcorn, relax, kick back and enjoy the movie. An occasion
    overindulgance is good for the soul!

    February 9, 2012 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nikki

      Most people's occasional indulgence is every night though. That's the problem. Americans have short attention spans.

      February 9, 2012 at 13:29 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Excellent point! Indulgence is good for the soul occasionally. But unfortunately most people overindulge on a regular basis. If people could be more frugal with their calories, and think about food more like a budget (get the most for your calories) they would be able to afford to splurge on that big popcorn, instead of going into calorie debt so to speak.

      February 9, 2012 at 13:38 | Report abuse |
    • Mikeydaman

      Occasional indulgence is good for the soul.....yes I agree with you IF and only IF you're not overweight and struggling with food addictions (as most heavy people are). The problem for many obese people is that an "occasional indulgence" of processed/junk foods will almost assuredly cause them to want more....next thing you know, the "occasional" turns into "excess". This is why I've never liked the phrase "everything in moderation" because to an obese person, that means they are allowed to eat the same foods that got them obese in the first place. It's really no different than telling an alcoholic that it's OK to have an occasional drink – it's not because you know where that leads. By the way, I speak from experience because I used to be a 19 year old 5' 7" kid who weighed 215-220 lbs. I'm now a 43 y/o runner and weigh about 153. I do treat myself, believe me, but it ain't with processed foods 🙂

      February 9, 2012 at 13:52 | Report abuse |
  8. The Truth

    "Stopping people while they order can disrupt the expected flow and activate self-control in an environment where it may otherwise be unlikely to be activated or is absent from consumers’ minds,” write the studies’ authors."
    What this means to the restauraunt business and big pharma is billions of dollars of lost revenue if you actually stop consuming 1,500 calorie meals with your diet coke. You won't be fat, get heart disease, diabetes or cancer. Otherwise enjoy the Superize along with the free Trifecta of Health Issues

    February 9, 2012 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jeana

    Right-sizing is a great idea. Posting the calorie counts worked for me but maybe not for my burger place. Once I found out how many calories were in my burger I never went back. And I never will.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chuck

      While your favorite burger may not be good for everyday, the occational splurge will be fine.

      February 9, 2012 at 15:49 | Report abuse |
  10. CAWinMD

    Totally agree, Aaron. It's a simple formula. If (calorie intake during the day) – (calories burned during the day) 0, you'll gain weight. A great example is Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer. He intakes nearly 10,000 calories a day, but he's ripped because he burns more than 10,000 calories a day with his practices and training.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Tr1Xen

    I just finished a SuperSonic cheeseburger as I was reading this... lol

    February 9, 2012 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mb2010a

      I just had the Bacon-cheeseburger Toaster Combo from there and loved every calorie of it...now I think I will take a nap.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:32 | Report abuse |
  12. This is research?

    "Customers who accepted the downsized meals ate, on average, 200 fewer calories than did those who ordered the full-sized meals."

    In another research, those who bought a one liter bottle of water drank less than those who bought a two liter bottle.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JT

      The point is that you eat however much food is in front of you. The results are not as intuitive as you suggest. It could have turned out that people ate until they were full and would have been happy with the smaller meal and stopped before finishing the bigger meal. In that case it would be roughly the same number of calories eaten.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:41 | Report abuse |
    • This is research?

      The article states nothing about how hunger level is controlled in the research. It is quite possible and even likely that those who ordered a smaller-sized meal weren't hungry or had no desire to complete a regular-sized meal to begin with.

      February 9, 2012 at 13:02 | Report abuse |
  13. td

    Learn to cook your own meals you fat slobs.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • AllThatGlitters21

      Did you know that there are a lot of people who have issues with portion control in general, both out in restaurants as well as in their own homes? Also, I would venture to guess that a sizeable number of the "fat slobs" you so eloquently refer to DO in fact cook their meals at home the majority of the time. I don't think that the location in which people are doing their overeating is really the issue here. As I said, portion control really is the likely culprit. Great work being a jerk though 🙂

      February 9, 2012 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
  14. Derek James

    Now do the same study at a McDonald's or at the aforementioned movie theatre. I'm curious what effect it being Chinese food has on the study. Would there be different results, I wonder.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. dragonwife

    It's not just fast food places that overdo it; chain restaurants also promote overeating with the "endless" promotions – endless breadsticks, all-you-can-eat buffets, etc., and then huge portions once you do get your entree. Places like that, I automatically count on taking half my meal home, because I know it's too much for me to eat at one sitting. My other pet peeve is drinks – whatever happened to "small" size drinks? Most places don't even use that term anymore; they either call it "regular" or start with "medium". I personally can't drink 20 oz. of liquid with a huge meal, so I've given up on ordering an actual drink when I go out, because it would just be wasted.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Matthew

    I would supersize those Brussels sprouts too . . . if they tasted as good as a big mac or french fries.

    Find us a way to make lentils and Brussels sprouts taste like pizza and bacon cheeseburgers, and our obesity problem will be solved overnight.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dallas

      RE "I would supersize those Brussels sprouts too . . . if they tasted as good as a big mac or french fries."
      Overuse of salt and sugar in fast food ruins our tastebuds and creates addiction and craving. Stop eating that junk and fairly quickly you will see that brussel sprouts are delicious! But as long as you put the crap on your tongue you will never find out.

      February 9, 2012 at 15:37 | Report abuse |
    • cmh

      I WOULD supersize brussel sprouts being just the way they are – mmmm. They do have to be fresh though – frozen are okay but not good enough to supersize. I do realize most people are like you and they don't like them. I never tried them until I was adult but when I did I loved them!

      February 9, 2012 at 16:11 | Report abuse |
  17. Primal

    Follow the Primal Blueprint and none of this matters. Now it really is that simple.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. marcia

    pigs will be pigs!

    February 9, 2012 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Primal

    BTW not a single restaurant of any kind anywhere in the world forces anyone to over eat. They also do not force anyone to come to their establishment. They are not the problem, period.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Clara

    Moderation is the key in most things in life. Want Mc Donalds? Get some. Don't eat 20 burgers and expect to keep your figure. Don't eat fast food every day and night and expect to stay in shape. Yes, some people have metabolisms that allow them to eat whatever and not gain any weight, but it's not very healthy. Drink plenty of water, exercise, eat right – but treat yourself. If you're overweight and want to lose weight, set realistic goals and keep them. Don't think that the world is looking down on you because of your weight. I applaud anyone who makes a true effort to work on their body. As someone who has come down from 300 lbs. to 167 lbs., I'll tell you it takes discipline and hard work. But it can be done.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rebekah

      Thank you so much for this comment Clara. As a woman who is overweight I am working hard to rectify that. I have to say though that one of the biggest issues for me initally was getting to the gym, not because I was lazy, but because I was so afraid of what people were thinking of me. Now I just don't care. I'm trying to make myself healthier, and if people don't want to look at me working out then they can look away.

      February 9, 2012 at 13:37 | Report abuse |
    • babybear

      Good for you! That's quite an impressive achievement.

      February 9, 2012 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
    • BLV

      @Rebekah- First, good for you for taking the initiative! Secondly, as an admittedly slender female, if I see someone overweight at my gym, I don't judge them... I usually feel a great deal of respect.

      February 9, 2012 at 14:18 | Report abuse |
  21. dx2718

    "The bad stuff" doesn't keep. Who would save popcorn or french fries or a half-eaten hamburger for later? But a lot of food is great cold or re-heated, and that stuff it makes sense to buy more of for cheap, as long as you train yourself to stop eating as soon as you're not hungry anymore and take home leftovers.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Ndlily

    Some people were obviously not in the room the day God handed out personalities. Bully for you if you can eat well. All of us should be so lucky as to have the time and finances to cook nutritious meals at home and not be "fat slobs" as one of you so adultly pointed out. And we should all have the will power to quit with half the meal when we haven't had time to eat all day because we've been run ragged going from this to that. Nutrition is the new religion, and what's sad is, instead of it becoming about how to help people, it's all based on shame or shining our own halos, as several of you on here have demonstrated.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill

      Cooking nutritious meals at home isn't time consuming nor necessarily extremely expensive. It does take planning though ("this is what I'll need for tomorrow/this week/this month"). Toss some trimmed chicken thighs and some veggies into the crockpot, add some lemon juice and/or seasoning and a little broth/water... 8 hours low... yum yum time! Lean beef, onion, mushrooms. When it's almost done toss in some fresh or frozen broccoli and cook til the broccoli is done. If you're super starving when you come home and the food aint ready yet keep raw almonds on hand and have a handful. Don't just slog them down though, eat them slowly with water and it'll subside the hunger til dinner.

      February 9, 2012 at 13:00 | Report abuse |
    • Nikki

      Way to go Bill. Will you marry me? I kid, but really....

      February 9, 2012 at 13:31 | Report abuse |
    • Bill


      February 9, 2012 at 14:17 | Report abuse |
  23. davey

    MOOOOOOchelle Obama should love this.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • janet

      Anyone who thinks Michele Obama is out of shape or overweight is so blinded by hatred they have completely lost their senses.

      February 9, 2012 at 18:21 | Report abuse |
  24. Dee

    Seriously? A 920 calorie, McDonald's fast food meal is a "sensible option?" Who wrote this garbage?

    February 9, 2012 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Victor

    Something I have not yet seen posted is the fact that flavors (inlcuding salt, sugar, etc.) are addictive just like anything else and the more salty or sweet food you eat the more you will need to get your fix the next time. Fast food resturaunts and most companies selling processed food (including cold breakfast cereal) are helping to create this food addicition and they know it and thrive on it and the government encourages them with hands off policies and tax incentives. If you want to be healthy you really need to take an active roll in determining how one thing impacts another. The secret...cook your own stuff. It's fun, much cheaper, does not take much time, and you control the ingredients and the portions. Good luck.

    February 9, 2012 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Weesie

      Well said Victor. I recently went on a strict no sugar diet. I could not believe how many products have sugar in them. I had to start shopping in the organic section or sift through shelves of labels just to find no sugar ketchup, tomato sauce, mayonaise etc. Started making my own blue cheese dressing to avoid sugar. No wonder we have an obesity issue. Even cooking at home isn't a solution if you are not reading labels. I have always been an avid cook, and prepared my own meals, rarly ate out. Because of my choices, I was 20 pounds overweight. Now I know better.

      February 9, 2012 at 13:38 | Report abuse |
  26. hoobie

    Some of us live by the rule – Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

    February 9, 2012 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. hippypoet

    fatties are everywhere... eating 3 times a day is a privilege of power, we take too much for granted and soon with other countries dieing from starvation, we will be invaded and our fast food "on the go" meals will be the catalyst!

    February 9, 2012 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. JGN

    Ndilly, you are so right about the rudeness!
    But paying attention to nutrition info doesn't have to be seen as shaming overeaters or shining their halos as these knee jerk 'commentaters' are doing. I welcome any new nutritional info that comes to light, not as an opportunity to jump on a bandwagon or do yo yo dieting which never works, but to slowly add tips for better eating into my consciousness. Slow change is lasting change, and every time a person eating at a fast food joint remembers to eat the small fries that has to be seen as a step in the right direction. Maybe in time that person will find a prepared lentil salad at a local natural food market they REALLY like, or learn that braising halved brussels sprouts in a bit of olive oil taste SO much better than the steamed ones their mother force fed them. Or maybe not...but at least they might opt for smaller portions or choose a smaller plate to eat off of at home (another trick that works!)

    February 9, 2012 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. David

    It would be great if the cash registers displayed two figures when you order: the cost of your order and the total calorie count of your order.

    I'm not a fan of excessive regulation, but here in California I've been glad to have the calorie counts listed in menus (restaurants and fast food places have to list the calories found in each menu item ), and the more information consumers have the more informed choices we can make.

    February 9, 2012 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. KimM

    The food at most of these fast food joints have deteriorated in quality so much over the years, that I hardly go to any anymore. The food is loaded with fat and calories and don't fill you up. A balanced home cooked meal is just more satisfying and much healthier. Personally, I believe that the obesity problem in the US is the result of too much processed food.

    February 9, 2012 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. pastafaria

    Downsized burgers?!! Did we learn nothing from the "Where's the Beef" crisis of 1984?

    February 9, 2012 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ranger Rob

      Don't worry, their Flying Spaghetti Monster will save them.

      February 9, 2012 at 15:38 | Report abuse |
  32. Lean & Mean @ 58

    It's really very simple as others have already said, don't go to the burger joints or the all you can eat buffet. Cook your own fresh food and get a little exercise. It really is just that simple. People who buy pre-packaged or pre-prepared food (the burger joints are all pre-prepared and reheated food) are abdicating the responsibility of good health to someone who is motivated by profit to put a bunch of crap on your plate and convince you that it is good for you.

    February 9, 2012 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Disko

    Cashier: "How may I help you?"
    Human Blob: "Yes, I'll have the whole left side of the menu. With a diet Coke."

    February 9, 2012 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Portland tony

    Those who burn their calories by changing channels or pushing on a car's break petal should be worried about what they eat at a fast food joint. On the other hand, a steel or construction worker, who burns more calories in a hour than your typical office employee does in a week doesn't need all this guidance for mini size Burgers. They need energy food and usually the only place they have, close by, is your fast food outlet or a food truck. Bringing it from home might work ...but not always.

    February 9, 2012 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. James the elder

    Downsize me to zero. If you eat even a bite of that crap in a sack, you deserve whatever it does to you.

    February 9, 2012 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Morgan

    This is all well and good in a university cafeteria setting, but I would bet McDonalds, etc. won't be so keen on this "downsizing" idea...they're in the business to make money, not healthy people.

    February 9, 2012 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ranger Rob

      Why would Mac's have an issue? Half sized orders for 2/3 the price? Yeah...like that isn't a great deal for them.

      February 9, 2012 at 15:33 | Report abuse |
  37. Diana

    Oh man, I hope places start doing this!!! I would love to have the opportunity to choose a "downsize" option

    February 9, 2012 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • J.

      I with they would let adults order off the kiddy menu.

      February 9, 2012 at 17:23 | Report abuse |
  38. pete

    why does everyone think that subway is healthy? average foot long subs have considerable more calories than a big mac. worse yet people think they ate a healthy lunch and eat junk for dinner

    February 9, 2012 at 14:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill

      I get the Roasted Chicken most of the time. If you stick to veggies (no cheese no dressing) it's in the 700 range. Much better than big mac and fries. Fits in fine for a diet that includes regular cardio and weightlifting. Sedentary people should stick to 6" and skip the chips.

      February 9, 2012 at 15:12 | Report abuse |
    • Mikeydaman

      Pete – I'm a regular Subway visitor and I would agree that, while Subway does offer more healthy choices than most fast food places, not EVERYTHING there is healthy. HOWEVER, having said that, you're still better off eating there than you are at other fast food places just because they offer many good choices, much more than McD's, BK, Wendy's, etc. You just have to choose your ingredients carefully, gravitate towards the sandwiches with the leaner meats, hold the cheese, oil and mayo, and PILE ON the veggies. Then you can get a footlong (turkey for example) for around 600 cal's, but those 600 calories will have a LOT more nutrition than 600 calories worth of big mac or whopper.

      February 9, 2012 at 16:18 | Report abuse |
  39. cc

    Micro-sizing save the restaurant money. If there's no benefit for me then why should I do them a favor? As for 'cleaning your plate' I routinely take extra food home to eat later. Perhaps the problem isn't the portion size but the people. Students are notoriously wasteful and as I recall most dorms prohibit storing food in rooms-and even if they allow it storing it without a refrigerator is pretty risky. (Not that students seem to care very much about risk, but it's a factor in whether or not I take the leftovers home. I rarely do when I'm staying in a hotel.) So it's likely that the results of this study have very little relationship to the 'real' world. (This is probably similar to the constant offers to 'switch to e-statements & go green'. That saves the company money so why shouldn't I get a share of that? It doesn't need to be much, most of the offers I've accepted have been for a $5 credit or less, but those offers what give me no benefit I don't accept. And being 'green' isn't a benefit, it's just a scam for businesses to save money without lowering prices.)

    February 9, 2012 at 14:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Grumpster

      Ramble much?

      February 9, 2012 at 15:28 | Report abuse |
    • Fred

      A comment is nice, a manifesto that goes on and on about nothing is not.

      February 9, 2012 at 15:30 | Report abuse |
  40. Grumpster

    Are you going to be the cashier who says to the 350lb person in front of you "ya want to FIT SIZE that order?" To which the fat slob gets a lawyer and sues for discrimination.

    February 9, 2012 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ranger Rob

      Funny...I bet they'd just double up the order. Gimme two microsized Whopper meals please.

      February 9, 2012 at 15:31 | Report abuse |
  41. The Blob

    Hahaha....like I want to get punched for insinuating someone is a gigantasaurous who wants to right size anything.

    February 9, 2012 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Silly

    Has everyone taken leave of common sense? Don't eat at a fast food chain and exercise. Make your own breakfast, lunch, dinner. Splurge every once in a long while, if you must. And walk, run, swim... whatever! This isn't hard. Stupidity and laziness are a deadly combo.

    February 9, 2012 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. JaxGrimm

    Its not burgers and fries that are really the problem. A big problem is items that are surprisingly high in calories. For instance, when people go to Olive Garden they don't tend to know exactly how high in calories that salad really is. It is high in fat and the sodium level is crazy. You have to research foods because some of the things people think is healthy can be worst than those Micky D fries.

    February 9, 2012 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • J.

      Sometimes eating a salad is worse than the burger. Leave off all cheese, meat, eggs, croutons, and any creamy dressing and your good. If you must use dressing leave it on the side and dip your fork in it before you spear the salad. You get a bit of dressing on each bite and end up eating a lot less dressing.

      February 9, 2012 at 17:27 | Report abuse |
  44. Tom

    I'd like to know when a medium-sized soda at the fast-food chains became the size of a bucket. Did anyone actually ask for that? Or did the chains increase the medium size so that they could charge more money? Burger King is not that cheap anymore.

    February 9, 2012 at 15:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Briy

    I have been trying to lose weight and get back in shape. I have read up on a lot of diets and crap people do to get skinny. My suggestion is if you're feeling hungry drick a glass of water. Also, instead of over eating I drink a whole bottle of water within an hour before eating any meal. Try it it works, makes the portions you eat much smaller because the water fills you up. Then you eat much less!

    February 9, 2012 at 16:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bookenz

      When you're craving cheesecake, water is not going to cut it.

      February 9, 2012 at 17:36 | Report abuse |
  46. J.

    having the calories listed has changed what I order considerably...so much so that I was able to loose 40lbs by changing my eating habits.

    February 9, 2012 at 17:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. sarah

    This is why I am more likely to eat at a restaurant who will allow me(an adult) to order off the childs size menu. I do not need or want a full oversized adult meal.

    February 9, 2012 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Kay

    For all of you who snubbishly comment that it is so "easy" to just cook every meal yourself, you must live a lofty life. I wish I had the time for that. Try working 8-12 hours a day plus going to school or having a second job. Many days I have left the house at 6:30 in the am and do not return home from work until 10 or 11, sometimes it's later. I rarely get time to grocery shop and I haven't had a day off since Christmas. Eating out is a must for many people, not always a choice. This article clearly isn't for you.

    February 9, 2012 at 17:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elise

      Agreed. When you have 30 minutes and 10 miles in between job 1 and job 2, there aren't a lot of other options.

      February 9, 2012 at 17:36 | Report abuse |
    • am88

      I have two jobs and go to school full time, yet I still find time to eat healthy because it's important. I'm not saying it's easy, but it is definitely worth it. I used to eat out all the time and when I didn't, I ate ramen...but after a while you learn that it is very necessary to eat well.

      February 15, 2012 at 19:36 | Report abuse |
  49. Bookenz

    Will someone please start a chain of HEALTHY fast food places all over the country that offers delicious food that is good for you. With a drive-thru–I'D GO THERE.

    February 9, 2012 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. laalaa99stl

    The same could be said of consumption in any retail setting. I'll bet it uses the same parts of the brain.

    February 9, 2012 at 18:03 | Report abuse | Reply
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