Customers drive large restaurant portions

By Peter Kent

Many restaurant chefs are serving food portions that are two times to four times the size recommended by federal dietary guidelines. This is a particular concern in South Carolina, which ranks eighth nationally in obesity rates.

“Chefs are involved with a lot of food Americans eat, and this survey could provide information that could be used to develop ways to improve our health,” said lead author Marge Condrasky, a Clemson food scientist.

The survey identified the factors chefs use to decide portion size: 70% presentation, 65% cost, and 52% customer expectations. Only 16% said they consider calories.

"The results suggest that food portions are driven more by customer demand than calorie content,” said Barbara J. Rolls of Pennsylvania State University, study co-author. “Many place the responsibility on customers to consume amounts of food appropriate for their energy needs.”

Condrasky sees the study as an opportunity to work with chefs. She is a leader in blending nutrition and food science with culinary arts in the new field of culinology. “The goal is to create foods that are good to eat and good for you,” she said.

For information: Marge Condrasky, 864-656-6554,