ALBANY, N.Y. -- In a nation notoriously helpless when it comes to portion control, food companies are doing the calorie-counting for consumers by serving up snacks at about 100 calories a pop.
Kellogg Co. this summer launched its 100-calorie Right Bites chocolate chip and Sandies cookies, following Nabisco's introduction of 100-calorie snacks last year and Jell-O's recent Sundae Toppers at 110 calories a cup.
General Mills Inc. offers a microwavable packet that cooks up 100 calories worth of butter popcorn. It's also trumpeting its Progresso Soups as having just 100 calories per serving, a new marketing strategy to highlight what the two-serving cans have always offered.
The sudden desire for moderation marks a pivotal reversal in a 40-year trend, said David Levitsky, professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University. With about two-thirds of US adults overweight, and almost half of those considered obese, health officials are targeting portion sizes as a culprit.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the average bagel 20 years ago was 3 inches in diameter and 140 calories; today it's 6 inches across and about 350 calories.
And people don't think twice about finishing a ''serving" -- no matter how big.
''People eat in packages. We eat what's on our plate," Levitsky said.
The government recommends a daily intake of about 1,600 calories for women and 2,200 for men.