Portion Sizes Eventually Add Up

Cleaning your plate can pack on the pounds.

By Neil Osterweil
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

If you are what you eat, then there's a good chance that you are super-sized.

When McDonald's recently announced that it would be phasing out its "super size" French fries and soft drink portions in its U.S. fast food outlets, nutritionists and diet experts said, "It's about time."

According to a nutritional chart available for download on the company's web site, a 7-ounce portion of super size French fries supplies 610 calories, 260 of which come from fat. The 29 grams of fat the fries contain represents 45% of the daily value recommended by the FDA, based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet.

But even when the mega-sized portions disappear from the menu, you'll still be able to scarf down a bag of large fries at 540 calories of which almost half of theses calories are from fat (26 grams of fat and 40% of the total daily value). Add a Big Mac® (600 calories, 33 grams of fat, 51% of daily value) and a large Coca-Cola Classic® (310 calories, 86 grams carbohydrates, 29% of daily value) and you're set for the day.

While nutritionists and diet experts generally applaud McDonald's move away from bloated meals, some say that it may be a case of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.

"In a sense, does a move like that really make a difference? If you can buy small, medium, and large, you can buy two smalls or two mediums; I'm not sure there's that much of a difference," says Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, professor of nutrition science and policy at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston.