That takes the cake


Herald Sun - - NEWS - LUCIE VAN DEN BERG lucie.van­den­ @Lu­cie_VDB

DI­ETI­TIANS are con­cerned muffins as big as soft­balls and su­per-sized cake slices served in cafes are normalising large por­tion sizes at a time when Aus­tralians are strug­gling to con­trol their weight.

A study of sweet treats in cafes and su­per­mar­kets found the aver­age serv­ing size had up to three times the rec­om­mended kilo­joule in­take for un­healthy foods.

Ac­cred­ited Prac­tis­ing Di­eti­tian Stephanie Liang said her study of more than 460 prod­ucts found cafe serv­ings were larger and had more en­ergy than su­per­mar­kets.

“The Aus­tralian Di­etary Guide­lines stan­dard serve for dis­cre­tionary or un­healthy foods is 500kJ,” she said.

Cafe serv­ings con­tained an aver­age of 1805kJ, sig­nif­i­cantly more than the su­per­mar­ket serv­ings of 916kJ.

Cakes and muffins sold in cof­fee shops were 2½ times as big as those sold in su­per­mar­kets: 150g com­pared to 60g.

Ms Liang said a reg­u­lar muf­fin should be about the size of a tennis ball, or a golf ball for a mini muf­fin.

The size and nu­tri­tional con­tent of treats from mu­drakes and cheese­cakes to muffins and slices were an­a­lysed in the study pre­sented at the Di­eti­tians As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia’s con­fer­ence this week.

“Muffins and cakes are quite pop­u­lar dis­cre­tionary foods and por­tion sizes have dra­mat­i­cally in­creased,” Ms Liang said.

“Peo­ple may be get­ting used to larger serve sizes or per­ceive they are get­ting more value for money.

“We are rec­om­mend­ing cof­fee chains re­duce serv­ings sizes to the size of the su­per­mar­ket ver­sions or of­fer a va­ri­ety of serv­ing sizes to make it eas­ier for cus­tomers.”

Al­most two in three Aus­tralian adults are over­weight or obese, ac­cord­ing to Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Health and Wel­fare data.

Obe­sity Pol­icy Coali­tion ex­ec­u­tive man­ager Jane Martin said overseas re­search in­di­cated the su­per­siz­ing of un­healthy food was oc­cur­ring in ev­ery­thing from piz­zas to pies.

“(Our) serv­ing sizes are get­ting big­ger — and we are get­ting too much en­ergy from th­ese kinds of foods,” she said.

The Vic­to­rian gov­ern­ment this year in­tro­duced manda­tory kilo­joule la­belling for large food chain busi­nesses and su­per­mar­kets to help con­sumers make health­ier choices.

Other ways to re­duce the con­sump­tion of th­ese foods in­clude shar­ing a treat or choos­ing one that doesn’t have a sweet fill­ing.

Ju­lian, 5, reaches for a cho­co­late muf­fin, but di­eti­tians be­lieve he should eat only a third of it.

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