As any visitor will tell you when travelling through the USA, the proportion of overweight people is indeed higher in North America that in Europe. When taking a closer look, one may easily realize that the food industry lobby paired up with the pharmaceutical one both combine efforts towards that goal. As in spite of the newly recent trend named 'orthorexia' (the obsession of 'healthy eating'), what remains mostly available at an affordable price food-wise here is cheap and fat - easy and even cheaper to produce, which will get us to purchase all sorts of stomach remedies, weight loss pills and so forth afterwards - the correlation between the two being very often overlooked.
Taking the food industry only and the example of the most famous item of the American cuisine, ketchup - there is obviously a rather cunning tendency in the US to sweeten everything. Reading the labels of a can of tomatoes soup for instance, makes me instantly feel like having a sugar rush or needing a good insuline shot while I am not diabetic (to give you an idea, the Wahrolian tomatoe soup has the equivalent of 8 packets of sugar in the whole can).
When investigating a little further on this same can of soup, one may be just intrigued by the concept of portion as well (this is where the 'size matters' comes from, ha!). I was recently having for lunch one of these small-ish can of soup - smaller version of the old-fashion tin, thinking it would be a nice artsy meal (yes, I do think in those terms at times). While I was about to get it warmed up, I started looking at the label - probably for the sake of freaking myself out in term of sugar level again - to realize that this can was 1 serving and 1/2! On top of seing that I was about to eat up the equivalent of 4 packets of sugar if I was to eat the regular 'serving' size, I realized I was about to have 1/2 serving too many (and will never have that soup ever again). While actually eating the whole can, I counted about 6 spoonfuls and also observed I was far to feel satisfied and nearly immediately started hunting for something else to fill my stomach.
Interestingly enough, the term 'about' tends to be rather overused when mentioning the number of servings: 'about 2 servings' - what is that supposed to mean? One may argue it depends on each person's appetite – but how can one set up its own standard in term of portions when none set ones are being provided in the first place? And how reliable are the amounts of sugar, fat, carbs etc provided if the number of servings can remain as vague as 'about'. Another interesting one is when it comes to drinks: have you ever purchased a whole can of coke thinking you may just have 1/8 of it – well to have on display at the front that a soda of any sort is only 80 calories, one may check out the number of servings actually within – you may as well be surprised a small can may as well be shared if you consider what it contains.
What I have noticed though is that along the years, my understanding of the concept of portion itself has been thrown out the window. While living in Europe, I had no trouble filling up the right plastic container with the amount of food I would need for lunch. While here, I have noticed being constantly too much or too little. The right amount has become the hardest thing to define these days and in spite of utilizing the same containers, it somewhat does not quiet work.
The question would come to my American friends who live in Europe/abroad - have they observed something on their end about portion sizes and general different tastes of theoretically same items? I will post here their post if any comes up to fuel the debate.