In her article "Portion Distortion -- You Don't Know the Half of It" [Outlook, Dec. 29], Shannon Brownlee unfairly targeted the restaurant industry for the problem of obesity among some Americans.

Seventy-six percent of all meals are eaten by individuals at home, and when consumers dine out, they find a variety of menu items in a variety of portion sizes.

Ms. Brownlee also ignored the fact that the rise in obesity is linked to our increasingly "couch potato" culture. According to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, the average child spends 15,000 to 18,000 hours watching television by age 17. In 1969, 80 percent of children were involved in daily physical education programs; only 20 percent are today.

Family history, genetic susceptibility and other medical conditions also play roles in obesity, but these factors went unmentioned by the author in her attempt to blame restaurants for this national problem.


President and Chief Executive Officer

National Restaurant Association



The idea that fast-food companies use "portion distortion" to get us to eat more calories doesn't acknowledge that "supersizing" is already regularly applied to just about everything we buy in supermarkets -- and has been for generations. Ever since Safeway opened in 1915, it has sold bulk packages of meat for less per pound than smaller portions. Supermarkets also sell "unhealthy" foods, including ice cream, hamburger and ketchup. So why not blame them, too?

Bargain prices for larger portions give consumers more buying power for their food dollar. We are able to "supersize" our fast food just as we can supersize healthier choices such as salmon and yogurt. The only thing that has been truly distorted in the fracas over fast food is our personal responsibility for what and how much we choose to eat.