In a bid to uncover the roots of super-sized American fare, a pair of sibling scholars has turned to an unusual source: 52 artists’ renderings of the New Testament’s Last Supper.
Their findings, published online Tuesday in the International Journal of Obesity, indicate that serving sizes have been marching heavenward for 1,000 years.
“I think people assume that increased serving sizes, or ‘portion distortion,’ is a recent phenomenon,” said Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab and author of “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.” “But this research indicates that it’s a general trend for at least the last millennium.”
To reach their conclusion, Wansink and his brother Craig, a biblical scholar at Virginia Wesleyan College, analyzed 52 depictions of the meal the Wansinks call “history’s most famous dinner party” painted between the year 1000 and the year 2000.
Using the size of the diners’ heads as a basis for comparison, the Wansinks used computers to compare the sizes of the plates in front of the apostles, the food servings on those plates and the bread on the table. Assuming that heads did not increase in size during the second millennium after the birth of Christ, the researchers used this method to gauge how much serving sizes increased. [reference]
The Dan Brown’s of nutrition.
Glad such important research is going on. Hopefully there was a government grant behind this. Next they will be getting out their measuring tapes to see if statues of saints have increased in girth over the years. Though Saints Anthony and Thomas Aquinas statues will throw off their results.