December 28, 2006

Are you confused? Of course you are!

Everybody is confused about food. Dieticians are. Researchers are. Doctors are. The US government is. WE ALL ARE.

Are eggs good for you? Are carbs good or bad? What causes cancer now? What suppresses cancer: Red wine? Chocolates? Coffee?

Is margarine good, or is butter good now? Candy has lots of sugar, but so does low-fat yogurt. Chinese food has lots of vegetables, in lots of fat. Beans are good; but in Mexican food?

What’s the latest with pomegranates? What’s the latest research with tomatoes? When are potatoes good, and when are they bad?

Everyone is confused and we are not surprised. Dieticians say people see the plethora of healthy choices as way too much trouble.

Fortune magazine reports:

"We are in such a hurry, we're so busy multitasking that eating is no longer a solo event," says David Grotto, spokesperson for the Chicago-based American Dietetic Association. "It's an inconvenience. We have hunger, and we need to squash it. We need to wolf down some food. You're lucky if you remember what you ate the day before."

So do we blame restaurants? No, not yet.

A recent ACNielsen study said 82% of consumers blame themselves (the individual) for weight gain in America. Only 6% place the biggest blame on fast food joints and 2% on food companies.

Elisa Zied, author of So What Can I Eat?! says people are frustrated by the conflicting research studies and news reports about what can harm or benefit them. Typically, they just want practical advice on what to eat.

Zied says we unknowingly make bad choices. Most people know that soda and candy contain a lot of sugar. But they don't always realize that low-fat flavored yogurt, salad dressing and Chinese food (think chicken with broccoli), can too.

Jennifer Nelson, director of clinical dietetics at the Mayo Clinic, says one way we can start to change is by asking restaurants for more healthy options and smaller portion sizes. Define value by the quality of your food, not its "supersize."

"Small indiscretions can create bigger health issues," Nelson says. "The good news is that small attempts, the more we chip away at it--we can get big results, too."

We all need to chip away at the lack of responsibility being assigned to restaurants. Appropriate portions will lead to big results in all Americans.

December 26, 2006

Who made America fat?

One piece of the pie: Portion size

You don’t have to tell presidential candidates and wives what the food problem is in America.

It’s portion size and eating out.

In 2004, Susan B. Roberts, Tufts University food researcher, saw a nutrition study play itself out in the unlikely setting of the campaign trail. She noticed that many of the presidential candidates and their wives were complaining that they were getting chubby.

“Several of them said they’ve gained 20 pounds because of ‘campaign food’,” she said. “That’s what they call it. But what they’re talking about is food in the real world. The food environment has become enormously more toxic.”

“It doesn’t matter what restaurants you go to. The more frequently you eat out, the fatter you are,” she said.

“Real-world” serving sizes are much different from the portions of 30 years ago. From one-liter bottles of soda to popcorn buckets at the movies to two-pound pasta entrées at a restaurant, portion sizes have increased almost across the board. Compound that with the fact that Americans are also dining out and snacking-on-the-go more often.

With ingredients so inexpensive to begin with, both restaurants and food manufacturers found they could keep their profits up by offering consumers larger sizes for just a teeny bit more money. Americans, being suckers for value, were willing to “super-size” their meals if they thought they were getting a bargain.

To Roberts, portion size is the arch-enemy in the war on obesity. “If you dealt with portion size and price, you would be dealing with a lot, because people would be willing to eat less to make their lunch cost less,” she said.

“You know what I would really like? Restaurants to be required to provide healthy portions, and if they also wanted to provide bigger portions, they would have to cost twice as much.”

In Roberts’ world if you went to a sandwich shop for a 400-calorie sandwich, and they wanted to serve you an 800-calorie sandwich, they would have to be $10 instead of $5.

But every researcher, every nutritionist, every diet program attacks just one small part of the obesity problem. They attack YOU!

You are responsible to all of the problems. You are responsible for buying the extra large French fries, the extra large pasta entrée, the extra large pizza. No one holds the restaurant responsible as they try to keep increasing the profits at the expense of your waist and wallet.

This blog community is calling on all restaurants, cafeterias, and eateries to stop the portion poison.

Appropriate portions for an appropriate price

December 22, 2006

Why does the US make unhealthy foods cheap?

The obesity epidemic started fairly recently. And it got a big push by the US government as farm subsidies have gotten as big and fat as today's youth.

It seems that the most unhealthy food is also the cheapest food. Why is that? Because farmers are paid to grow corn, sugar, beef, pigs and just about anything that's unhealthy.

Just like the subsidities in the oil industry, oil is cheap in comparison to solar and wind.

But imagine an United States where we invested in healthy foods (and renewable energy sources). Why can't we give grants and subidies to companies, farmers, restaurants that serve us RightSize portions and healthy foods? As a country we would save billions of dollars and millions of lives. It's estimated that for every dollar of prevention, 10 dollars is saved in medical expenses.

Last night on the Larry King show, Dr. Andrew Weil was asked the most pointed question in the obesity issue: Isn't fat self-inflicted?

WEIL: Larry, that's not fair to say -- it is not fair to say that it is self-inflicted. People are being targeted by manufacturers of foods.

KING: Yes, but they choose to eat it.

WEIL: They promote high blood sugar.

KING: Yes, but they choose to eat it.

WEIL: I don't think that's always fair. Often these are the cheapest foods that people can buy. The federal government subsidizes crops in ways that drive down the prices of these cheap carbohydrates. I don't think it is fair to say that it is all individual responsibility. I think it is collective responsibility.

OZ: Andy, would you agree that it is at least your personal ability to reverse it is there. And folks can lose the belly fat faster than anything else by just making the dietary shifts. Because when we treat these folks with medications, oftentimes it backfires.

The insulin, for example, we give diabetics often causes them to gain weight. The beta blockers we use to treat their high blood pressure will often cause them to gain weight. So our very treatments are hurting the people that we're trying to help.

WEIL: Yes, no question about that. But I think the basic information about nutrition is just not there. You ask most Americans to name a whole grain food, and they'll tell you whole wheat bread. Whole wheat bread is not a whole grain food. It is made from flour and it digests rapidly and raises blood sugar. People need to understand the basic facts of how the foods you eat affect blood sugar and predispositions to type 2 diabetes.

Let's stop our government from contributing to the obesity epidemic. Stop unhealthy subsidies. I didn't say stop subsidies (I am a realistic). Let's start healthy subsidies. Let's pay farmers to grow healthy foods, making it cheaper for healthy portions.

We need to lobby Congress. The 2007 Farm Bill will affect more than farmers. It affects you every time you are in the supermarket and it affects your children every time they eat a school lunch. Tell your Congressional representative that you want healthy choices, not pork barrel politics. See Sustainable Agriculture to start the fight.

December 19, 2006

"More is better" American mentality

Let's be clear right off the bat. More is not better!

You spend more money. You eat more calories. You have more waste. You have more overload.

Madison Ave. wants you to measure value of food by the quantity. But bigger portions always cost more than you wanted to pay. Bigger portions always cost you more calories than you originally wanted.

My dad taught me value. If a Coke was $1 for one bottle, and $1.50 for two, then buying two was the better value. Wrong, dad. The way to save money (and calories) was not to buy the second bottle at all. [Try telling that story to the thousands of people right now at that Sam's Club or Costco.]

Quality -- not quantity -- is the best value. Especially when it comes to your health.

Let's stop the wrong American mentality.

Don't buy the advertising hype. Don't supersize. Don't get the second portion. Don't frequent restaurants that load up the plate with quantity, and questionable quality. Educate yourself and your family. Tell them you love them more than McDonald's. You love them more than Applebee's. Help them choose the RightSize.

The NY Times reports:

“We’re often encouraged to buy larger-sized portions and ‘value meals’ because they provide a better value for our money,” Lisa Drayer, a registered dietician and director of nutrition services with says. “But while these oversized portions may be good for our wallets, they are not necessarily good for our waistlines or our health.”

A 1994 informal survey found that the standard plate size in the restaurant industry grew in the early 1990s, from 10 inches to 12. That holds 25 percent more food.

That really makes a difference in how much our plates can hold and how much we eat from them.

Obesity expert Barry Popkin at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said the idea of “value pricing” in fast food restaurants, which sells much larger portions for a minor cost increase, has also changed perceptions at home.

''The most surprising result is the larger portion size increases for food consumed at home – a shift that indicates marked changes in eating behavior in general,'' he wrote in a study published in 2003.

My dad had his first heart attack at 50 years old. He knew value. He didn’t know healthy portions.

December 18, 2006

It's a scientific fact: People cannot judge food portions

We can't do it alone. But we can change the restaurants in America.

All the advice from all of the experts says Americans must eat appropriate portions. But according to many studies cited in Brian Wansink's brillant book, Mindless Eating, Americans are just not adept at deciding what's enough:
Considering our imperfect food memory, it seems that the last person we should rely on to stop eating is ourselves...We're just not designed to accurately keep track of how much we've consumed.
Wansink goes into great scientific detail showing that we take our cues in eating from many different sources. Size is one of them. And we just can't figure out how many calories are in our food today. In his studies we consistently underestimate the amount of food we have eaten.

In a test of medium vs large popcorn bowls, Wansink found that we eat more with a large popcorn bowl even if the popcorn was stale, and we had eaten right before the popcorn.

In a study with a special bottomless soup bowl, restaurant goers tried to eat until they were full. Yet compare with the normal soup bowl, eaters with the bottomless bowl ate much more.

But can this blog and others change the world?

Well, Time Magazine yesterday said, yes. It named YOU the person of the year. Every person in America that blogs, posts a video, or shares information on the web, is the person of the year, and has the power to start forcing food establishments to serve us the RightSize.

Let's use this power for good.

December 16, 2006

What makes it difficult to eat RightSize portions?

  • Value meals
  • All you can eat buffets
  • Restaurants that charge to split an entree
  • Pizza deals (buy one, get one free)
  • Supersizing
  • Smoothie
  • Huge bagels and cream cheese at work
  • Blue cheese dressing (not on the side)
  • Not serving appetizer-, petite- or half-servings
  • Tables with bread & oil
  • Unsupportive friends, family and workmates
  • Vending machines
  • Grande or venti
  • No substitutions
  • Mall food (Cinnabon, Mrs. Fields, Auntie Anne's Pretzels)
  • 12-inch plates
  • Samples
  • Energy drinks
  • Costco-sized
  • Mexican restaurants
  • Clean-plate club
  • Cheesecake Factory
  • Don't know what a 1/2 cup is

Post your candidates for WrongSize foods.

December 15, 2006

Restaurants say they will make portions smaller

Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research and information at the National Restaurant Association's association, said consumer trends in 2006 forecast that restaurateurs will be moving away from trans fats and larger portions in 2007 on their own.

"American consumers, in terms of portion size today, have a greater variety than at any time," Riehle said.

"Restaurants are becoming homes away from home for today's busy Americans who are looking for exciting culinary experiences, and restaurants continue to deliver those experiences," said Steven C. Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the Association. "In addition to serving as a social oasis for busy individuals, restaurants also use technology solutions to enhance the dining experience. Chefs are keeping a close eye on emerging trends and are getting creative with ethnic influences and exotic ingredients, while the restaurant operators are making the dining experience more convenient than ever."

A survey of more than 1,000 chefs shows that some of the hottest menu trends are bite-sized desserts, locally grown and organic produce, flatbread and bottled water. Additional "hot" items include pomegranates; figs; grass-fed and free-range meat; fresh herbs and exotic mushrooms; whole-grain breads and focaccia; Mediterranean, Latin American and Pan Asian fusion cuisines; salts, aged meats and ginger; pan-seared, grilled and braised items; specialty sandwiches; and Asian appetizers.

December 14, 2006

Your mother was all wrong!

Every mother has said, "finish your plate". As Americans we can't stand to see our children or ourselves leave one little bite of food on our plates.

Our natural tendencies is to overeat and finish every bite. "Why...people are staving in India", was the reason I was told.

"You want a second heaping?" is something I heard a lot at my family's dinner table. If I said no, the immediate response was, "you don't like it." It was assumed that you had to have at least two helpings if something was extra good. To eat just one heaping of every food on the table was an insult to my mother. She had spent a good amount of time preparing this food, and we should be glad we have and be glad to eat a lot of it.

We all have carried on those instructions from our moms to our homes today, and to our actions when we eat out. Nutritionists tell us to split our restaurant meals in half, and take the rest home. When is the last time you saw someone eat just half of his french fries and wrap the rest to go? Or we are told to split meals with a friend. Again, who orders a "value" meal and says let's split it between us.

These RightSize instructions from nutritionists are great, just not practical. Restaurants need to change its portion sizes to help us.

Can all the mothers in the world unite? We want -- we demand -- the RightSize of food.

"Don't eat all your food," should be what we tell our children.

December 13, 2006

December 12, 2006

Sit-down restaurant less healthier than fast food restaurants?

Didn’t we all think that it’s much better to frequent the local sit-down restaurant than Burger King or McDonald’s? Think again. We were wrong.

If you want the WrongSize of calories, fat and salt then go to your sit-down restaurant.

In today’s Wall Street Journal, for example, it’s reported that a Ruby Tuesday hamburger has 1,103 calories and 78 grams of fat, while a double quarter pounder with cheese from McDonald’s has only 730 calories and 40 grams of fat. (Remember, it’s recommended that we eat between 1,200-2,200 calories and 65 total grams of fat daily.)

According to the Agriculture Dept.’s report, “Let’s Eat Out”, people make the wrong assumption about what’s healthy and what’s not.

Consumers who are looking for healthful foods are also 19 percent more likely to patronize full-service restaurants than they are to pick fast-food outlets. These latter consumers, who generally avoid fast-food fare, may believe that full-service establishments provide relatively healthful foods. In fact, other research shows that meals and snacks consumed at full-service restaurants are not nutritionally superior to fast food. Compared with fast food meals, full-service meals tend to be higher in fat, cholesterol, and sodium, on average, while lower in saturated fats.

But it appears that restaurant owners and executives of restaurant chains are clueless! They believe that we will continue to buy their unhealthy food choices.

They have little incentive to change anything, until we force them to.

The report says:

Do Americans even want healthful foods, and do they apply their knowledge of health and nutrition when making choices about where to eat out and how often to do so? In a recent study, executives of major restaurant chains were interviewed about opportunities for promoting healthful foods at their restaurants. The executives’ reactions were mixed. Some expressed skepticism that offering more healthful foods would increase patronage at their establishments.” Most restaurant customers’ attitude is ‘When I go out to eat, I want what I want...’,” one said. However, many of these executives also said that increasing consumer awareness of health and nutrition is the best avenue for managing the Nation’s obesity epidemic.

The report says, “consumers’ demands for away-from-home foods are driven by more than the desire for a healthful diet.” Factors include convenience and entertainment value that seems to override the healthfulness of food.

But I believe that the RightSize, convenience, flavor and entertainment do not have to be exclusive.

WorstSize Foods (from “Restaurant Confidential”, Workman Publishing)

Chinese: Kung Pao chicken, 1,630 calories

Italian: Fettuccine Alfredo, 1,500 calories

Mexican: Loaded taco salad, 1,100 calories

Seafood: Fried clams, 830 calories

December 11, 2006

Can this be the fast-food, portion-control future?

- There's a new concept in dining that will hopefully change the way many of us eat.

Ummba Grill at Westfield's Century City Mall has a unique motto, "Pay by the pound." Rather than get the standard triple portions like many establishments, Ummba Grill let's you choose how much food you want to eat. They weight it, you pay it.

The meats are rotisserie style and the sides consist mostly of colorful produce dishes, such as salads, steamed vegetables, and vegetable combinations. While you'll find rice, bread and other grains, there are so many healthy produce choices to choose from.

If you want a perfect three ounce portion of salmon with salad, vegetables, etc., it's easy to order and pay your way. It's great for your waistline and your wallet.

Owner Sia Amiri says with this type of concept, the price is right. The average plate costs $10-12. With plans to open more healthy eateries, Amiri got the idea after seeing a similar concept in Brazil, along with noticing what great shape the Brazilian's are in.

Ummba Grill
Westfield's Century City Mall: Upstairs Food Court
10250 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles CA

Let's hope the concept works out.

No such thing as bad food

"There's no such thing as bad food or good food, just bad portions," that's the word from Today show contributor, Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., CNS. (Eat smart during the holidays.)

Of course that makes sense. What doesn't make sense is why is all of the onus is on the eater, and not the preparer?

For the holidays, what can restaurants and party makers do for us Americans?

Ten portion-control ideas:

  1. Smaller portions of everything: Extremely tasty edibles!
  2. Food passed around, instead of bowls and platters of grazing foods.
  3. Plenty of protein. Plain meatballs, chicken, turkey, lobster and shrimp (any shellfish).
  4. Use salsa. Experiment with fat-free dips made with nonfat cream cheese or sour cream, or blend your own bean dip. Pair with vegetable spears or baked pita chips.
  5. Prepare the crackers and cheese in individual portions. Prepare everything in individual portions. Use whole wheat crackers and breads.
  6. Nuts in shells. Believe it or not, studies show when you have to work for your food (cracking nutshells), you eat less. The same is true for candy. If you need to unwrap the candy, you’ll eat less.
  7. Serve unlimited TASTY vegetables, fruits. Try grilled vegetables.
  8. Use exotic fruits. Plate them attractively. Begin the party/dinner out with these unusual starters. Be creative. Experiment with seasonal produce to lighten up your meals. Consider chutneys as an accompaniment to meats, slices of pears or oranges in salad, cranberries or dried fruits in rice pilaf, or apple sauce substituted for some of the fats in your baking. A little creativity can go a long way toward heightening taste and sneaking in your produce needs in the food.
  9. Try soup in handy cups. A little portion of tasty squash soup is a perfect holiday start.
  10. Set out bite-sized, healthy snacks such as popcorn, raisins or nuts in brandy snifters. That way your guests won't be tempted to keep reaching for the snacks -- they'll have to pick up the glass and pour a few into their hand.
  11. Bonus: Send care packages home with your guests so they can enjoy your special holiday cookies -- or whatever -- after the event. Give it to them at the beginning of the party.

December 8, 2006

Real and not so real dangers

Understandably the public's collective heart went up, and then down, when news of James Kim's situation was announced. It seems he heroically tried to walk 10 miles in unforgiving terrain to save his wife and two young daughters.

Hundreds of people tried to find, and save him. Millions prayed. I have often found it so fascinating that the news (and the public) can latch on to a story such as this, and report it with such raw emotion and passion. It's heartbreaking to see the pictures of the family, and to see the sheriff break down when the bad news finally came.

Everyday across America we worry about the wrong things.

We worry that we'll get lost in the snowy woods someday. We worry about e. coli. We worry about mad cow disease. We worry about cell phones and cancer. The chances of dying from those issues are extremely small.

But the chances of dying from being overweight are real and immediate. Yet, we ignore it.

Approximately, 75,000 people will die of diabetes, this year and every year. Strokes will kill 157,000. Nearly 700,000 people will die of heart disease.

Portions, eating out, selection -- every part of the food industry -- would change quickly, if the national media did a story every day on the tragedy that each one of these deaths caused.

Maybe the numbers are too hard to comprehend. Maybe we don't perceive that it will affect us. It will be the other guy. The guy that's a little heavier than me. The guy that eats a little less healthier than me.

The truth -- the sad statistic -- is it will be you and your family, and your neighbors unless we all start forcing the world into the RightSize.

December 7, 2006

Restaurants have a huge business opportunity

There's two ways to look at changing how we eat out. One, is to have the government dictate how, what and where we eat. That's what New York City is starting to do. Two, restaurants could do it on their own. They have a huge business opportunity to start providing extremely healthy foods and healthy portions. Right now this article -- Is eating at home healthier? -- says that people think it's better to avoid eating out. And that's so true...for right now. Imagine if restaurants could provide healthier foods? We eat out 33% of the time now. Can you imagine if that went up to 40 or 50 percent?

With trans fats being banned critics are screaming about taste and flavor. Are you serious? Bakers and chefs cannot make foods taste good without trans fats? What did the world do before trans fats? It's just hard for me to understand how we can't have taste without trans fats.

And by the way, to give those fast-food, trans-fats, french fries flavor don't we have to add corn syrup-ladened ketchup to them?

December 6, 2006

Portion Plate vs. Portion World

The Partners for Corporate Health have created an extremely helpful tool for home with the Portion Plate. The plate clearly lays out that at each meal you need 1/2 the plate to be fruits and vegetables, 1/4 of the plate to be grains, and 1/4 of the plate to be lean protein.

This only works at home. What happens at a restaurant? At school? At work?

Types of food vs. food portions

Life would be pretty boring without a spectacular variety of foods. That includes sugar, salt, chocolate, flour, coffee, wine, beer, and pizza. I don't think anyone wants to get rid of "nature's" foods.

But, let's face it, food in today's society is not just sustenance. It's pleasure, it's emotional, it's comforting, it's exciting.

It's also -- for some -- addicting. Just like cigarettes, drugs, alcohol; eating food can be extremely addicting, and difficult to control. And just like those other addictions, Americans need a little help. Not a lot. Just a little help from the "I'm not going to take it anymore" consumers; and maybe, a little help from the government.

What's wrong with serving appropriate portions? Let's see a new headline in the newspapers:

McDonald's eliminates Supersizing, moves to RightSizing.
Other restaurants to follow.

Should New York be allowed to ban food items?

Should government be allowed to ban food items from restaurants? Or is it too much government in our lives? Should the government ban corn syrupy? Should the government regulate portion sizes next? Leave a comment!

If you read this blog, you know my answer.

December 5, 2006

America's call for Health Action

Just this week, the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention™, presented its 2006 America’s Health Rankings™: A Call to Action for People and Their Communities. Prevalence of Obesity

And the results are not good for America.

Obesity -- the result of not eating the RightSize -- is expanding.

The average [percentage of obesity] for the United States is 24.4 percent of the adult population, up from 23.1 percent of the population in 2005 and double the rate of 11.6 percent of the population in 1990. In the United States, this means that over 53 million adults are obese. If the population of the United States could return to the weight status of 1990, there would be over 25 million fewer obese individuals.

Colorado, Hawaii and Connecticut have the least obese individuals. The worst states are: Mississippi, Louisiana, West Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services,
Michael O. Leavitt, did not address any aspect of obesity or serving the right portions in our restaurants and schools. (Letter from HHS.) The government, corporations, schools don't get it yet.

My call to real action. Stop feeding us the WrongSize. Start feeding us the RightSize.

December 3, 2006

Even college students get the WrongSize

It's bad in the elementary schools; it's bad in high school, but can you believe colleges? They have fixed the old nasty-tasting cafeterias with all-you-can-eat "WrongSize" buffets.

Check out this article Freshmen 15

Krista Lewis, a U of Iowa senior from Downers Grove, Ill., said dormitory living
was an adjustment her freshman year. "Living in the dorms, the whole
buffet style of food is really hard if you can't control yourself. I had to learn to
start taking smaller portions," said the math and education major.
Everyone knows that portion control is extremely important, so why have unlimited buffets at college? Why not pass cigarettes out? Drugs too?

If we all know it's bad, bad, bad --

Good habits include controlling food portions, substituting fruits
and veggies for some high-calorie foods, and getting regular exercise -
which doesn't have to be pounding away at a treadmill, Kathy Mellen, a
dietitian with U of I Student Health Services
-- why do we offer it?

In 1964 it was finally recognized by the American government that smoking was bad. How many years did it take for corporations get the message? And that was just one industry. It's going to take a revolution to get all the industries to practice the RightSize.

December 2, 2006

Wrong Size = Being Poorer

In today's NY Times it quotes research that not only does the wrong portions lead to heart disease, diabetes, depression, arthritis, liver disease, sleep apnea, and a shortened life span, but that it costs thousands of dollars over a lifetime. Not only can obese people expect higher medical expenses, but they tend to make less money and also accumulate less wealth in their shortened lifetimes.
(More pounds, fewer dollars)

“Being overweight can be dangerous to your wealth,” said Jay L. Zagorsky, Ohio State University economist.

Anytime you “supersize” a fast-food meal, it increases your medical expenses by $6.64 for men (and $3.46 for women).

Research shows that employers considered “people of size” as lazy, weak-willed or too unattractive to interact with customers. Only Michigan outlaws weight discrimination.

Bottom line: The obese accumulate only about half the assets of the normal-size American.

Let’s list the eating establishments where we can get served the RightSize of food, and help everyone towards better health and more wealth.

December 1, 2006

Heaping portions?


WASHINGTON -- Those heaping portions at restaurants -- and doggie bags for the leftovers -- may be a thing of the past, if health officials get their way.

The government is trying to enlist the help of the nation's eateries in fighting obesity. One of the first things on their list: cutting portion sizes.

With burgers, fries and pizza the Top 3 eating-out favorites in this country, restaurants are in a prime position to help improve people's diets and combat obesity.

The report, by the FDA, lays out ways to help people manage their intake of calories from the growing number of meals prepared away from home, including at the nation's nearly 900,000 restaurants and other establishments that serve food.

Today, 64 percent of Americans are overweight, including the 30 percent who are obese. It pegs the annual medical cost of the problem at nearly $93 billion.

Consumer advocates increasingly have heaped some of the blame on restaurant chains.
The report encourages restaurants to shift the emphasis of their marketing to lower-calorie choices, and include more such options on menus. In addition, restaurants could jigger portion sizes and the variety of foods available in mixed dishes to reduce the overall number of calories taken in by diners.

In other words: Restaurants must RightSize.

We all are thinking the same

Two items:

1. Today as I was shopping at the local grocery store chain, I became convinced that all of America wants the RightSize portions. The check clerk -- a 40-something Hispanic lady -- mentioned to me that it's great I was buying all these vegetables. Well, I rarely, if ever, strike up a conversation with strangers, but I said, yes, you need to eat your vegetables, but just as important to eat the right portions. And immediately she jumped on that and said, "I know, I know, I tell my husband all the time. You must eat just this much," and she made a fist.

Here's a lady -- totally different in so many ways from me -- and she's thinking the exact same thing. We -- white, black, Hispanic, Asian -- have to start eating the RightSize.

2. On the radio today it was mentioned that obesity -- the WrongSize -- is the new smoking. It costs America more money and causes more illness than cigarettes. No matter what you eat, if it's the RightSize you'll be healthier.