first_imgWASHINGTON – 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. At least that’s what is recommended in a government-commissioned report released Friday. The report, requested and funded by the Food and Drug Administration, 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. “We must take a serious look at the impact these foods are having on our waistlines,” said Penelope Slade Royall, director of the health promotion office at the Department of Health and Human Services. The 136-page report prepared by The Keystone Center, an education and public group based in Keystone, Colo., said Americans now consume fully one-third of their daily intake of calories outside the home. And as of 2000, the average American took in 300 more calories a day than was the case 15 years earlier, according to Agriculture Department statistics cited in the report. Today, 64 percent of Americans are overweight, including the 30 percent who are obese, according to the report. 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 like McDonald’s, which bristles at the criticism while offering more salads and fruit. The report does not explicitly link dining out with the rising tide of obesity, but it cites studies suggesting a connection. The National Restaurant Association said the report, which it helped prepare but does not support, unfairly targeted its industry. 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 cut calories. Bundling meals with more fruits and vegetables also could help. And letting consumers know how many calories are contained in a meal also could guide the choices they make, according to the report. Simeon Holston, 33, called more disclosure an excellent idea as he lunched on a sausage-and-pepperoni pizza at a downtown Washington food court. “OK, I am going to eat junk food regardless, but let me eat the junk food that’s going to cause me less damage,” he said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img


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