One of the things that the food industry has been criticized for in recent years has been dramatically increasing portion sizes. Experts point to this as another contributing factor to the obesity problem in the U.S.  Lo and behold, it looks as if the problem may not have been spawned by MickeyD’s supersized portions after all.

Davinchi's painting of the last supper

Look at the bounty assembled before the Apostles. Note the portion size. Amazingly, it seems to have grown, even since this was painted by DaVinchi in 1498.

Civilization’s success at finally producing enough food to comfortably feed much of the population after millenea of subsistence living has been documented in an unlikely source; paintings of The Last Supper. Two college professors and brothers, Craig and Brian Wansink, just released a study of 52 Last Supper paintings. These works were painted over the last 1,000+ years and show a surprising trend; the growth of both plate and portion sizes of the assembled diners.

Just as the “large” size has grown in soft drinks and french fries, so too has it increased for the meals being eaten by those partaking in Jesus’ last evening meal. Researchers found that the size of the main dinner being enjoyed by those breaking bread with Jesus had grown by a waistline expanding 69% and the bread it self had ballooned by 23%. The findings from the study are published in next month’s Journal of Obesity.

It looks like this trend of ever increasing portion sizes has been with us for longer than many people first thought. Increasing portion sizes is a sure road to fat city, however. An easy way to fight fat is to eat smaller portions, and eat them more slowly. You’ll feel fuller, and end up actually eating less. Research also shows that if you size your portions by weighing them, instead of eyeballing them, you’ll have more consistent sizes and they’ll be smaller overall, as will your waistline.