I am a CNN junkie. Pretty much when I have nothing else to watch (like “Chuck” or “Suze Orman”) I will have CNN on. Last Sunday I was watching Fareed Zakaria GPS and Paul Volcker was on. He said something that made me sit up and pay attention.  He stated that the reason the United States was in the midst of such economic turmoil was that we have become a nation of over consumers.

A Nation of Over Consumers
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image by VirtualErn

I suppose Paul Volcker does not realize that he also hit the nail on the head when it comes to the obesity epidemic and the healthcare crisis. Our problem is we over consume not just things but food.

I think the best way to highlight our changes in consumption is the growth of portion sizes over the years.  I found a great article at www.worldhealth.net that compares the portion of some common items 20 years ago and today.

First up, 2 slices of pizza.  20 years ago two slices would have been about 500 calories. Today they weigh in at 850. 350 calories more that, if you eat pizza once a week, would equal 5.2 pounds gained a year.

Or how about a cup of coffee? Before the rise in popularity of Starbucks the average morning joe was 8 oz of coffee with milk and sugar. The calories came in at about 45 a serving. Today, if you order a Grande Café Mocha with whip and 2% milk you are consuming 330 calories. If you made the switch and have one a day that means an extra 285 calories a day.

Then there is the ever popular movie popcorn. Before the average serving was 5 cups worth at 270 calories. Today anyone and everyone has the giant tub that holds 630 calories worth of popcorn.  Going to the movies once per week could mean an extra 5.4 pounds per year.

Next we have the soda to wash down that popcorn.  8 oz was the original bottle size with only 95 calories. Today a 20 oz bottle will give you 242 calories and lots of high fructose corn syrup.

Finally a look at the bagel. Bagels are good for you right? Not the oversized ones we consume today. 20 years ago the average bagel was 3 inches in diameter and about 140 calories. Today, they are 5-6 inches in diameter and 350 calories. That does not include the cream cheese we love to smear on them.

Anyone else freaked out by the way our food grows when we are not looking? I am that’s for sure. Turning around the culture of over consuming is what we need to do for our pocketbooks and for our waistlines.

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