Ultraprocessed foods and beverages, including chocolate, french fries, fast-food hamburgers and soda, are being sold in sizes up to five times larger than when they were first introduced, according to a December 2021 study in the American Journal of Public Health
. Ultraprocessed foods are industrial formulations that typically contain five or more ingredients, and may contain, for example, hydrogenated oils, dyes or flavor enhancers
that are not found in other processed foods, according to the Nova food classification system
designed by the Center for Epidemiological Studies in Health and Nutrition at University of São Paulo's School of Public Health.
Hershey's chocolate bars range in size from about a half an ounce to 7 ounces
. (The 7-ounce bar, labeled as 8 servings, delivers close to 1,000 calories
The original McDonald's burger patty -- from 1955 -- had 1.6 ounces. While the original patty size has not changed, today the chain offers two 4-ounce patties in its Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese
for a total of 8 ounces of beef in a single order. And the fast-food company introduced in 2020 a Double Big Mac burger with four patties and more than 700 calories
If that calorie count gives you pause, consider Burger King's triple Whopper with cheese
, which has nearly 1,300 calories. "It's enough calories for an entire day for some people," registered dietitian and lead study author Lisa Young said.
Even though smaller sizes are still offered, the availability of larger beverage sizes has also increased. Coca-Cola drinks are now sold in different sizes ranging from 7.5 fluid ounces to 24 fluid ounces. The original bottle had 6.5 fluid ounces, according to the study.
"It's no surprise so many of us are overweight because it is so easy to be that way," said Young, who is also an adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University. "It is hard to stick to normal portions when you are bombarded with these ridiculous sizes."