Role of portion size in the context of a healthy, balanced diet: a case study of European Countries

Carruba MO, Ragni M, Ruocco C, Aliverti S, Silano M, Amico A, Vaccaro CM, Marangoni F, Valerio A, Poli A, Nisoli E. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Mar; 20(6):5230.

Tempo di lettura 2'

Abstract

Over the past decades, a generalised increase in food portion sizes has probably contributed to the growing global obesity epidemic. Increasing awareness of appropriate portion sizes could
contribute to reversing this trend through better control of calorie intake. In this study, a comparison of standard portion sizes in European countries for various food categories shows a wide variability of their importance for food, nutrient, and energy consumption according to government and institutional websites. On the other hand, the overall averages appear to be largely in line with the values indicated by the Italian Society of Human Nutrition, which is the most comprehensive and detailed document among those evaluated. The exceptions are milk and yoghurt, for which the reference portions in Europe are generally higher, and vegetables and legumes, for which portions are smaller than those reported in the Italian document. Moreover, the portion sizes of staple foods (e.g., pasta and potatoes) vary according to different food traditions. It is reasonable to consider that the creation of harmonised standard reference portions common to the European countries, based on international guidelines and scientific evidence, would significantly contribute to consumers’ nutritional education and ability to make informed choices for a healthy diet.

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