Fast-Food Experiments With "Right-Sized" Portions

As the epidemic of obesity grows, fast-food restaurant chains in America are bewildered as to how to react, as portion distortion is a real problem for consumers and companies.

Enter Richard Snead, CEO of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide and architect of an important experiment at T.G.I. Friday's locations. Believing patrons are tired of extra-sized meals, Friday's has unveiled its "Right Size" campaign of menu items that are about a third smaller than the usual servings.

Many competitors are skeptical Friday's plans will work at all, according to this interesting New York Times piece. Still, there's an unusual difference in their strategy that may make all the difference in the world: Smaller portions at lower prices.

Considering 51 percent of all adults -- and 63 percent of all women -- believe portion sizes at casual restaurants are way too big, Friday's "Right Size" plan may have come at the right time. One caveat: Friday's upped the smaller portions slightly because focus groups complained about half-portions of super-sized meals.

Certainly, it's another small step in the right direction, and it's been profitable as Friday's executives expected in the short term. Nevertheless, you'll never optimize your health while eating a fast-food diet. Any start you make toward better health begins with a serious time commitment in the kitchen preparing your own meals.

New York Times March 25, 2007 Registration Required

The Ledger March 25, 2007