Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SuperSize Me, Jesus!

We have come to assume that our privileged and wasteful lifestyles, driven by fast, accessible, cheap foods have contributed to the increasing portion sizes and the epidemic of obesity in the US. But is that necessarily so?

A recent study in the International Journal of Obesity by Brian Wansink, a Cornell Nutrition professor and his brother, Craig Wansink, a biblical scholar at Virginia Wesleyan College, have analyzed over 50 renderings of Jesus' "Last Supper" and determined that the size of entree portions has increased by over 70% in the last thousand years. The serving size of bread and the plates from which the food is served have also been sized up.

Some news is just too much fun to pass up. With the twin holidays of Passover and Easter close at hand, the news media also has a hard time ignoring this one. Other scholars and nutritionists have begun to weigh in with their views on this "fun" research and point out that few if any of those depicted in the scenes appear to be overweight. Perhaps the painters had Thanksgiving in mind rather than an ascetic last supper in the wilderness.

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