I can’t rest easily when I see a student enter my university classroom with a HUGE container of a fruit or vegetable smoothy. I approach him or her (both genders seem to order the same size, although I suspect a scientific study would reveal that the men tend more often to the largest sizes), asking “Whatchagotthere?”
Invariably, the students express confidence they have chosen well—how can they go wrong with vegetables and fruits? I’m at a disadvantage: Fruits are good; vegetables are good; indeed, even the natural sugars in the fruits and in the high glycemic veggies are good. And I don’t want to miss the point that they are bringing fewer and fewer cans of pop into my class.
But the sheer scale of volume of the drinks flabbergasts me—and they are not inexpensive! How can their stomachs hold all that, on the one hand, and are their cells really happy with the flood of sugary liquids coming their way? And how long can their budgets sustain the cost?
Have we always elected large food containers from which to eat and drink—huge, round plates; deep, circumferous bowls; tall, fat cups, mugs, yikes—jugs?
No, we have not, according to a study done by Brian and CS Wansink ( “The Largest Last Supper: Depictions of Portion Size Increased Over the Millennium,” International Journal of Obesity, 34, 943–944. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2010.37). Super-size appears to describe our times, not earlier ones.
The Wansinks report that over a space of 1000 years and 52 depictions of the Last Supper, the ratio between painted head sizes and painted food items have increased significantly. Main dishes have increased almost 70%, a loaf of bread 23%, and plate sizes 66%. I assume head sizes remained the same.
They did not report on the ratio between food item sizes and waist sizes, so I invite them to return to their study—and I put my money on comparable ratio increases there, too, don’t you?
The proper answer to my question “Whatchagotthere?” is “A jug of pre-diabetes and obesity and chronic inflammatory response.” But I have some way to go before I actually get such an answer.
You can reach Gloria Askew OR Jerre Paquette at email@example.com
You can read more about Gloria and Jerre’s book, The Secrets of Supplements: The Good, the Bad, and the Totally Terrific, here.
You can also read our blogs on WellWise.org