The common perception has long held that Americans like big portions, a notion that has been tied to the country's battles with obesity and overall healthfulness. In fact, many an analyst has lamented that, due to those at-times overwhelming portions found on restaurant plates, Americans can no longer recognize a true serving size. However, a recent study indicates that Americans believe restaurants have gone too far with their portion sizes.

Without funding from any outside sources, Opinion Dynamics Corporation (Cambridge, Mass.) surveyed 1,112 American adults on the portion issue between August 24 and August 26 of this year. The results show that more than half of consumers regard the typical restaurant portion size in the U.S. as too large, while only about a third believes restaurant portions are properly sized. Perhaps of greater interest are the responses suggesting consumers would be more willing to frequent establishments that offer half-sized portions, an opinion held by four in 10 respondents.

According to Lawrence Shiman, vice president for Opinion Dynamics, “Our research indicates that consumers are beginning to think of battling obesity as more than just following the latest diet. While many restaurants have begun to create healthier menus, especially for children, Americans also want to be offered appropriate-sized portions when they go out to eat.”

Women, at least, tend to agree with that opinion. Some 60% of the fairer sex regards portion sizes as being too big. Guys were another story: 44% of men held that opinion.

Many respondents expressed a willingness to eat at restaurants offering a “half-sized” menu in addition to traditional portion sizes. About 26% would be much more likely to dine at such a restaurant; 14% would be somewhat more likely.

For more information on the Opinion Dynamics survey, contact Lawrence Shiman, 617-492-1400 or e-mail