Two recent academic studies give valuable insight into diet that could have a significant impact on the obesity epidemic.
The first of the two studies was conducted at Cambridge University, and indicated that portion size and human perception could be having a significant impact on our collective weight.
Researchers from the esteemed university found that offering super-sized portions or serving food on a larger plate led to participants in the study eating significantly more.
Even those who were conscientious about the amount that they ate were susceptible to consume large amounts when bigger portions were offered, according to the Cambridge-authored research.
The conclusions from the Cambridge researchers would seem to be logical, considering the amount of time that it takes for the hypothalamus to register the fact that we no longer require food.
Research from Cambridge suggested that if the general public was exposed to smaller portions across all aspects of diet, it would be possible to cut food consumption by 16 per cent.
This would amount to approximately 1,900 calories per week, which would mean a potential loss in weight of a pound every fortnight.
Dr Gareth Hollands, of Cambridge’s Behaviour and Health Research Unit, who co-led the study, suggested that the results indicate that overeating may not merely be due to a lack of self-control.
“Helping people to avoid ‘overserving’ themselves or others with larger portions of food or drink by reducing their size, availability and appeal in shops, restaurants and in the home, is likely to be a good way of helping lots of people to reduce their risk of overeating,” Hollands stated.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, commented that it is important for people to keep a keen eye on portion size considering the rather worrying statistics related to obesity.
“Given that almost two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, it’s important to keep an eye on portion sizes when cooking, shopping and eating out to avoid overeating and help maintain a healthy weight,” Dr. Tedstone asserted.
The findings from the Cambridge study were published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
Additionally, a study assessing the so-called Mediterranean diet concluded that it has the potential to reduce the risk of breast cancer by two-thirds.
The Mediterranean diet is particularly characterised by olive oil, and is consumed by countries including Italy and Greece.
It also involves swapping butter for oils, and producing meat intake in favour of more fish. Increased proportions of fruit and vegetables are also central to this diet.
Researchers found that those who follow the Mediterranean diet had a 68% lower risk of malignant breast cancer than those who consumed a low-fat diet.
Commenting on the results, lead author, Miguel A Martínez-González, said: “The results of the trial suggest a beneficial effect of a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil in the primary prevention of breast cancer. Nevertheless, these results need confirmation by long-term studies with a higher number of incident cases.”
There were nearly 12,000 deaths from breast cancer in the UK in 2012.