Serving sizes: Who decides what a serving is?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/serving-sizes/MY01311
- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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May 13, 2010
Serving sizes: Who decides what a serving is?
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
A serving is a specific amount of food defined by common measurements, such as cups or tablespoons. It's not the same as a portion, which is the amount you happen to put on your plate. Packaged foods must use standard serving sizes. Standard serving sizes make it easier for shoppers to consider and compare calories and nutrients when choosing foods.
Serving sizes, also known as "reference amounts customarily consumed," were taken from surveys of the average American's eating habits in the 1970s and 1980s. However, these serving sizes don't seem to match up with the way Americans eat today. Maybe they never did — since people notoriously underreport what they've eaten when given food surveys.
The concern that serving sizes are out of step with the way Americans eat has led some to suggest that serving sizes be "normalized" — in other words, upsized — to reflect today's larger appetites. Some experts also suggest that calories appear in large print on the front of packages — not just in small print on the Nutrition Facts panel.
Proponents believe that this approach will serve to shock people into eating less. The sticker shock would be considerable — changing the serving size for premium ice cream from one-half cup to one cup increases the calories from 250 to 500. (My husband can easily polish off two cups in one sitting!)
Others argue that if serving sizes are changed it may send an unintended message — that it's OK to eat more. Also, those bigger serving sizes mean more fat, sugar and salt per serving too.
Do you consider serving size when choosing foods? Or are you unintentionally eating multiple servings and getting more calories than you realize? Do you think upsizing serving sizes will serve the greater good?
- Nutrition Labeling and Education Act. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/Inspections/InspectionGuides/ucm074948.htm#Serving%20Size. Accessed May 10, 2010.
- How to understand and use the Nutrition Facts label. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Food/LabelingNutrition/ConsumerInformation/ucm078889.htm#see1. Accessed May 10, 2010.
- Reference amounts customarily consumed per eating occasion. Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=563f0b6235da3f4c7912a64cbceec305&rgn=div8&view=text&node=21:18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124&idno=21. Accessed May 10, 2010.
- Guidance for industry: Letter regarding point of purchase food labeling. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/GuidanceDocuments/FoodLabelingNutrition/ucm187208.htm. Accessed May 10, 2010.