Big junk food portions a big problem

Wednesday, 5th July, 2017

Our junk food portions are expanding - along with our waistlines.

WE'RE eating larger portions of junk than ever before.

A new study from the George Institute of Health shows Australians are eating bigger serves of foods laden in fat, sugar and salt.

Researchers compared data from 1995 to 2012 and found a significant increase in portion sizes for junk food.

It seems pizza and cake are our biggest temptations, with a 66 per cent increase in the average number of kilojoules eaten in one sitting.

We're also indulging in more sausages, cereal bars, processed meat, ice cream and wine.

The institute's Miaobing Zheng said the results were worrying given that discretionary foods contribute about a third of Australia's daily energy intake.

"Over the past two decades we found that foods which provide very little nutritional benefit have surged in size, and this is helping to fuel Australia's obesity epidemic," Dr Zheng.

"We had expected portion sizes to have grown but we were still surprised by just how much. It's pretty disturbing that an average slice of cake has increased in size so much it now contains almost 1000 kilojoules more than it did two decades ago."

Surprisingly, we are eating fewer pastries, potato fries and snack foods such as chips and popcorn.

"We aren't 100 per cent sure why the portion sizes of these foods reduced, but if you take fries, for example, most fast food chains offer small portions, so it could be the case that people recognise these foods are unhealthy and consciously try and eat less of them. But, unfortunately these foods items were the exception, not the norm," Dr Zheng said.

"We know that people often under report the amount of food and drink they consume, especially if they consider them 'bad' foods. So the true picture of what Australians are eating could be much worse."

The findings were published in the journal Nutrients.

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