The Clean Plate Club known for those that eat everything they put on their plate - is alive and well. A new study conducted by Cornell University reveals that the average adult eats 92 percent of whatever they put on their plate. The study published in the International Journal of Obesity - analyzed 1,179 diners and concluded that we are a Clean Plate Planet.
The diners were from eight developed countries the U.S., Canada, France, Taiwan, Korea, Finland and The Netherlands and the results were nearly identical. If you put it on your plate, its going into your stomach, says Brian Wansink, professor of marketing and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.
The findings were not the same for children though. The study analyzed 326 children under age 18 and revealed that the average child eats only 59 percent of what they serve. This might be because kids are less certain about whether they will like a particular food, Wansink said. Regardless, this is good news for parents who are frustrated that their kids don't clean their plate. It appears few of them do.
The findings can positively impact an individuals eating behavior and the next time you are filling up your plate you may ask yourself how much you really want. Just knowing that you're likely to consume almost all of what you serve yourself can help you be more mindful of appropriate portion size, Wansink added.
Wansink and Katherine Abowd Johnson are also the co-authors of a forthcoming book entitled Slim By Design. Part of why we finish most of what we serve is because we are aware enough to know how much well want in the first place, Johnson added.
Clean Plate Club Beginnings
The Clean Plate Club was the beginning of a campaign first established in 1917 when the United States Congress passed the Food and Fuel Control Act or Lever Act, according to Wikipedia. This gave the president the power to "regulate the distribution, export, import, purchase and storage of food." President Woodrow Wilson released Executive order 2679-A creating the U.S. Food Administration and appointed Herbert Hoover as the head, enforcing this act. This organization was given the task of making sure that the limited amount of food America had as a result of World War I didn't go to waste, and to avoid importation of food as much as possible. Hoover knew that many Americans were willing to volunteer and had a strong sense of patriotism during the war, so he used that to his advantage when he advertised the idea of the Clean Plate campaign. Hoover promoted this idea to children who attended school with a pledge that read, At table Ill not leave a scrap of food upon my plate. And I'll not eat between meals, but for supper time I'll wait.
This targeted children too young to understand the value of food in the difficult economic time. Many necessities such as flour and sugar were in short supply, so Hoover used a sense of American nationalism to encourage families to take appropriate rations and save food. His goal was for people to eat less, use less essential ingredients, and to finish their entire meal. By doing this, young children developed the habit of eating everything given to them, thus cleaning their plate.
The U.S. Food Administration was terminated after the First World War, but in 1947 the Clean Plate proposal came back and was encouraged by President Harry S. Truman, who aided in officially forming the Clean Plates Club in elementary schools across the country. This club was officially created after the Great Depression and World War II, when food was once again scarce. In 1947, the U.S. created the Marshall Plan, in which President Truman encouraged Americans to consume less poultry, to conserve food for starving Europeans. As a reaction to his plan, the Clean Plate Clubs were formed, and elementary school students were again taught to clean their plates.
This concept now puts Americans at risk of unhealthy life styles. Studies show that 64% of Americans are now in danger of being overweight or obese. The ideal of completely finishing a serving has now become a bad habit, as food in America is no longer in short supply, and finishing the remainder of your meal is not a crucial belief any more. Today, portion sizes have increased considerably, shown by the fact that a serving of French fries today is twice the size of a 1950s serving, making cleaning your plate an unhealthy dietary action.
It has been shown that parents who push their children to eat their entire meal may interfere with the self-control of their child, thus leading them to overeat, as well as creating a misunderstanding of an appropriate serving size. Some Clean Plate cases may turn into psychological problems, or lead to developing eating disorders. Health experts indicate that completely finishing meals points you in a direction that moves towards obesity and continuous health problems such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
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