For years we’ve been asked by fast food joints everywhere “Would you like to supersize that?” And for years millions of us have answered with an enthusiastic “Hell yes!” But with obesity at epidemic proportions and more and more waistlines being supersized, it might be time for fast food joints to offer a downsized option for their meals.

According to a new study published in the journal Health Affairs, when people were asked if they wanted to downsize portions of their side dishes at a fast food restaurant, as many as a third opted for the smaller – and thus lower calorie – option. We’re definitely a country known for excess and over indulgence, could Americans really be ready to downsize?

Janet Schwartz, a psychologist and an assistant professor of marketing at the Freeman School of Business at Tulane University thinks so, but says the restaurant industry would not be on board:

“The restaurant thought people wouldn’t be willing to do it. Some people don’t want big supersized portions and they’re willing to pay a premium for it by paying the same amount for less food. Other strategies, like displaying the calorie count of every item on the fast food restaurant menu, just haven’t led to weight loss. The idea behind downsizing is that people really do understand that no matter what’s put on their plates, they’ll most likely devour every single morsel. But, if they’re given a chance to get a smaller portion before they stick the first forkful into their mouths, many will go for it.”

Experts feel that restaurants feel that by downsizing food portions they’ll scare off hungry customers and lose revenue.

Some have suggested that instead of calling it “downsizing” which sounds so negative, restaurants interested in offering healthier portions should call it “right sizing” instead. “Instead of asking, ‘would you like to add some fries,’ servers could ask, ‘would you like to right-size it,” says Leslie Bonci, a nutritionist at the University of Pittsburgh.

It could be sometime before this idea catches on, if ever, so in the meantime nutritionists suggest people watch their portions when ordering. Instead of double cheese burgers, stick to the junior size and stay away from those huge supersized soft drinks that can triple the calories in your meal. It would be nice if restaurants would join in the fight for healthier living, but the bottom line is we all have to monitor our own portions and our health.

Are you ready to downsize?

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