Study confirms that food portion sizes increased in U.S. over two decades

Between 1977 and 1996, portion sizes for key food groups grew markedly in the United States, not only at fast-food restaurants but also in homes and at conventional restaurants, a new study shows. The observation is one more indication of broad changes in the way Americans eat and another reason for the widespread, unhealthy rise in obesity among U.S. children and adults, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers say. It is believed to be the first documentation that at any given meal, on average, the typical American eats more than he or she did only a few decades ago.

Religious high schoolers more optimistic, have better self-esteem

High school seniors who consider themselves religious have significantly higher self-esteem and hold more positive attitudes about life than do their less religious peers, a new study shows. The research, part of the larger National Study of Youth and Religion, revealed a statistical association between religion and higher self-esteem among 12th-graders who went to religious services at least once a week or who professed deeply held spiritual views. “This was contrary to the belief held by some people that religion is associated with psychological neurosis or dysfunction,” said the study’s lead author. “These findings seem to suggest the opposite — that religion is associated with a constructive outlook.”