MealEnders Blog

Portion Control to Battle Obesity On Global Scale

The Top Intervention to Fight Increasing Rates of Obesity

By Dani Lee
December 10, 2014

Obesity is not just an issue in the United States, it is a global issue with staggering statistics projecting that almost half of the world’s adult population will be overweight or obese by 2030.

What is the key to preventing our population from reaching the obesity tipping point? The McKinsey Global Institute just released their economic analysis on overcoming global obesity, evaluating 74 obesity interventions including efforts to subsidize school meals, nutrition and calorie labeling, restricting fast food marketing, and various other public health campaigns. Their goal was to understand how to change population-wide eating and physical activity habits in order to impact individual energy balance to promote weight loss and weight maintenance.

The main findings from the McKinsey report include:

(1) No single obesity intervention will work – we have to target the obesity epidemic at various levels in order to have a significant impact. A sustained, system-wide implementation of diverse initiatives is needed to reduce obesity.

(2) Nearly all obesity prevention initiatives are cost-effective – when taking into consideration the lifetime savings on healthcare costs and productivity that would outweigh the direct investment for obesity interventions.

(3) Education and personal responsibility are important, but insufficient on their own. The food environment and societal norms must change to support lifestyle changes for obesity prevention. Examples included reducing default portion sizes, changing marketing practices and restructuring urban and education environments to facilitate physical activity.

(4) In order to reduce obesity, we must work together. Engagement from as many sectors as possible – governments, retailers, consumer-goods companies, restaurants, employers, media organizations, educations, health-care professionals and other individuals – is critical for capturing the full potential. Similarly, coordinating the efforts will be necessary to reduce first-move market share risks. Suggestions include a combination of top-down corporate and government-led initiatives with bottom-up community-led initiatives.

(5) Portion control initiatives have the highest impact. Ranking a variety of existing initiatives based one their total ability to improve human health, portion control efforts ranked highest, saving an estimated over 2,000 lives.

Over the past decade, the national conversation about the obesity epidemic has been reaching drastic highs. MealEnders is excited to be a providing individuals a tool for fighting obesity by helping regain control of overeating and supporting individuals’ efforts to reduce their portion sizes.

(1) Dobbs R, Sawers C, Thompson F, Manyika J, Woetzel J, Child P, McKenna S, Spatharou A. Overcoming obesity: an initial economic analysis. McKinsey Global Institute. 2013.
(2) A new study offers hope in the battle against bulging waistlines. The Economist. November 22, 2014. Accessed on Wednesday, December 3, 2014.

*Individual Results May Vary