Fast food portion sizes over the decades

Over the past three decades, fast food portion sizes at the most popular restaurants have drastically increased. Between 1986 and 2016, the average portion size for fast food entrees has nearly quadrupled, and the portion size for desserts has more than quadrupled. Lead author of the study, Megan McCrory, a research associate professor with the Boston University College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences also said that the increase in portion size is largely responsible for the increase in calories and sodium. On average, desserts have increased the number of calories per decade by 62, and entrees have increased by 30 calories. “I think we see an increase in portion size pretty much in the entire food supply,” McCrory said. “In some ways, the fast food restaurants are probably just keeping up with expectations of the size of the food people expect to be served. The same kind of things are happening in other restaurants that aren’t fast food.”

Registered dietitian Michelle Milgrim said, “These foods are just sodium-laden. With obesity and hypertension as the main causes of mortality among the American public, it’s so important for us to consider sodium.” While the levels of calories and sodium have risen, McCrory argues that the amount of calcium and iron have too. However, McCrory added, “Given how calorie-rich fast food is, there are better places to get calcium and iron.”