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Serving Sizes

Author(s): Nancy Moreno, PhD, and Paula Cutler, BS.

Typical portions often contain multiple “servings”

Portion sizes of convenience and fast foods steadily have increased in the United States over the past thirty years (Nielsen and Popkin, 2003). In many cases, the portions served and eaten actually contain several “serving sizes,” as defined by Food Pyramid or even the Nutrition Facts labels on foods. For example, a large baked potato corresponds to three servings of carbohydrates. A large bagel delivers the equivalent of four bread servings.

Sometimes, the serving sizes listed on “Nutrition Facts” labels of food packages are different than the serving sizes listed by other guides, such as the USDA Food Pyramid. This differences arise because information on the Food Pyramid is designed to help people meet daily nutrient recommendations by providing relatively few, easy-to-remember serving sizes for each of the food groups. Nutrition Facts labels, on the other hand, provide detailed nutritional information that enables consumers to compare similar foods and make selections based on nutritional content. Ideally, the two sources of information should be used together to make appropriate food choices.


Funded by the following grant(s)

National Space Biomedical Research Institute

National Space Biomedical Research Institute

This work was supported by National Space Biomedical Research Institute through NASA cooperative agreement NCC 9-58.