A new study explains the "French paradox" in two words: portion size.
In restaurants and supermarkets, an American "portion" is larger than its French equivalent, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and CNRS (Centre Nationale du Recherche Scientifique) in Paris.
A chocolate bar sold in Philadelphia was 41 percent larger than the same product in Paris, the study found. A soft drink was 52 percent larger, a hot dog 63 percent larger and a carton of yogurt 82 percent larger.
In the United States, 22 percent of adults are obese, compared with 7 percent of French adults.
Although French cuisine may be rich, from one's morning croissant to the cheese course after dinner, Americans eat more food. Those calories will add up to significant weight gain over time, said Paul Rozin, professor of psychology at Penn and lead author of the study, which appeared in the September issue of Psychological Science.
Researchers found that the mean restaurant portion in Paris was 277 grams, while in Philadelphia, it was 346 grams. "Many studies have shown that if food is moderately palatable, people tend to consume what is put in front of them," Rozin said.
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