Monday, May 14, 2007

Cheesecake Factory Offers Smaller Portions

Some long while back we pilloried the Cheesecake Factory--giving it one of our "Gluttony" awards for purveyors of obesity.

We're not ready to take it back, but we have noticed that the CF, along with other mega-portion size chains such as Ruby Tuesday and Friday's, are now offering smaller portion sizes as an option, with CF even cutting the price on the smaller meals (unlike some of the others).

It's a small--really, tiny--step in the right direction. As we've said before, much of the obesity epidemic can be traced to Americans' infatuation with enormous portion sizes for meals, snacks, drinks, etc., much of which is driven by the food industry. (A restaurant can essentially double your portion of food for a few pennies, reaping a larger profit by charging a few extra dollars. The soon to be fat diner thinks he's getting a bargain--twice the food for just 20-30% the extra cost.)

Part of the problem, of course, is that there is no standard for what constitutes a "normal" sized serving. Believe it or not, when I was young, most people were perfectly satisfied with a meal consisting of a single patty cheeseburger, a small bag of fries and a 12 ounce soda. Today, that would barely pass muster as a kids meal.

We need some standards. Perhaps a threat of such from government would encourage food industry groups to come up with something on their own. Then, we might be in the position where, instead of offering a "smaller" portion--which is really a right-sized portion for most people--you might have a regular portion, with the option to pay more if you really need something outsized.

Sadly, even the small portions at many places are still far too large. Wendy's, for example, simply relabelled it's 20 ounce drink and medium fries with any combo meal as a "small", while making its "medium" into a gargantuan obesity-inducing calorie fest.
For now, the best thing you can do, especially with kids, is encourage leaving some food behind, or sharing some of those huge portions (kids don't like to share food with their siblings, but they will share with their parents).

1 comment:

Phriendly Jaime said...

Great post! I too am passionate about the havoc the food industry has wreaked on Americans. Tahnks for the read.