The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

America Has A Portion Control Problem …

As many know, America is the most obese nation on earth.

When you know this, I guess it’s less of a surprise when they say anyone who spends 2 weeks in America will put on approx 8 pounds in weight.

I could talk about the many, many reasons that contribute to this situation – from poverty to profit to, as I read recently, that the biggest fear for anyone who has guests is running out of food … hence they overcook by significant amounts.

Anyway, this is all an excuse to show you this picture …

As you can see, it’s a mountain of onion rings.

If you look carefully behind them, you’ll see the look of shock on my sons face.

Now you may think that is an optical illusion, but it’s not … it really was that big.

But here’s the amazing thing.

That wasn’t a portion of onion rings … that was a half portion.



Apart from the fact if you ate that amount there isn’t enough toothpaste in the World to stop your breath smelling of onion for 19 years, that was the starter.

The bloody starter.

Now I like onion.

I bloody love onion.

But even I couldn’t eat more than a few strands and so there was an enormous amount left which – I presume – was then thrown away.

A while ago – 3+ years to be exact – I wrote about the insane portion control of the Hard Rock Cafe in NYC.

What made it worse was they were running a campaign at the time about stopping hunger.

Well given that obesity is a cause of so many illnesses in America – illnesses that have a huge, detrimental affect on the economy – I can’t work out why the government don’t mandate portion sizes at restaurants. Yes, I know for many people, they take what they don’t eat back home … but how much of that is actually eaten versus kept in the fridge for a few days and then thrown out.

The irony here is that fast food restaurants – the ones who often get the most abuse – are way, way, way better than more ‘formal’ restaurants.

Part of that is because they don’t want lawsuits against them … part of that is that they know their audience so well that they know how much they actually eat and part of that is that they have a huge number of stores, so they don’t have to win on quantity but simply offering the convenience of giving people what they want when they want it.

But these big ‘restaurants’ aren’t like that and that’s why I feel they are particularly guilty of creating food wastage.

For me, it is one of the worst things in society.

We have people hungry and we have people getting ill because of obesity.

It wouldn’t take much to actually start helping to reduce this, but sadly America has been sold the belief that quantity always trumps quality and until that attitude starts changing, then the allegedly most powerful country on Earth, will continue to act in a way that seems weak.


America still believes in quantity over quality.

Comment by George

thats how campbell got his visa approved.

Comment by andy@cynic

You’re probably right Andy, but George hits the nail on the head. It appears to me that America’s goal is less about being best, but more about being biggest. Food. Cars. Sport.

Part of the problem is they believe biggest means best … and while I accept that has led to some amazing innovations, it has also led to some tremendous issues they may not ever be able to get free from.

Comment by Rob

Not sure I agree with you about that the McDonald’s of the world are good citizens but I do think they are less guilty than many of the more formal restaurant chains.

Comment by George

That explains your breath.

Comment by DH

And his body.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I agree with George that all food chains share a degree of responsibility for the epidemic you write about in this post. That said, it is pleasing to see you get back to more serious topics on here because these are issues the advertising industry should be taking to their clients about.

Comment by Lee Hill

Absolutely right. I’m not sure they currently have any incentive to be good citizens and only pay lip-service to it with minor tweaks. The first client that goes all-in on this could reap huge rewards.

Comment by John

I agree … but in a nation that views ‘quantity’ as value, I don’t know if a health based alternative would ever achieve the scale of the other players, if only because their quantities would be considerably lower than the competition at a price that will be perceived as being considerably higher.

Comment by Rob

It doesn’t have to be drastic. Just mainstream what the hipsters pay too much for.

Comment by John

You’re probably right about the costs, but it did occur to me that the absence of socialised medicine could mean that the costs to the economy aren’t as great as in other countries.

And as we’re all keen on actual data. How many weeks have you been in the US and are you on trend?

Comment by John

why the fuck are you answering a post about fucking onion rings seriously?

Comment by andy@cynic

Because it’s a quantum leap up from the recent rubbish.

Comment by John

Even I have to agree with you on that John.

And bad news everyone, I WILL be here next week so no more ‘2 day for the week’ blog posts.

Sorry to ruin your weekend.

Comment by Rob

The problem is the availability of copious amounts of food that have little nutritional content. And how is it that eating an animal is cheaper than eating a bunch of strawberries, seriously have a think about it. WTF? And as you preface the obesity is down to a multitude of issues (education, race, class, you know the usual issues in the US).

Damn those onion rings look good.

Comment by Peter Bray

You should watch a PBS documentary on the corn industry. It will blow your mind. Then make you angry.

Comment by Rob

Is that the documentary that details the government subsidies given to farmers for growing corn rather than other foods?

Comment by George

I really think this happened after the ’01 and ’08 financial crises. The first thing that happened when the markets collapsed were people stopped eating out. In response, restaurants lowered quality and started loading meals with empty carbs so that people would go out to eat because they feel it’s a good value.

Having said that, I miss onion rings.

Comment by Bryan

As any Brit knows, a good onion bhaji beats an onion ring hands down.

Comment by Ian Gee

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