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Supersized Portions, Supersized Problems: How McDonald’s “Increased Strategy” Fueled the Obesity Epidemic

  In the 1960s, businessman David Wallerstein ran a chain of movie theaters in the Midwestern United States. While running movie theaters, Wallerstein’s main goal was to increase sales of popcorn and Coke in movie theaters.
  One night, Wallerstein suddenly thought of a way: Why not make the popcorn box bigger? After this idea was trialled in movie theaters, popcorn sales increased by leaps and bounds, which also led to a substantial increase in Coke sales. Wallerstein found a shortcut to marketing food products—increasing their size.
  In the 1970s, Wallerstein served on McDonald’s board of directors. At that time, McDonald’s was facing the same problem: How to increase sales of French fries and Coke, its most profitable products? Wallerstein’s extensive experience working in movie theaters came in handy here, and he made a suggestion to McDonald’s owner and American business legend Ray Kroc: Increase the size of the French fries and Coke.
  ”What’s the use of this?” Crocker expressed doubts about this suggestion. “If people want to eat more, they can buy another portion.” ”
  But who would be willing to buy two portions? No one wants to be in front of others. Looks like a glutton,” Wallerstein explained.
  Ray Kroc ultimately adopted this suggestion. Therefore, starting in the 1980s and 1990s, McDonald’s began to consciously increase the size of French fries and Coke. McDonald’s original small Coke was 8 ounces (1 ounce is about 30 ml), while today’s small Coke has reached 16 ounces, and the large Coke has reached 32 ounces.
  What exactly does McDonald’s “increased strategy” bring? Wallerstein and Crocker may not have thought that while McDonald’s sales revenue and profits have increased significantly, the “increased strategy” has brought about a common and difficult-to-control social problem, that is, the proliferation of obesity. According to data released by the National Institutes of Health, the 10 years starting in the 1980s were the period during which Americans gained the fastest weight.
  People are eating significantly more than before. It’s not that their bodies suddenly need more food, but that their standards for food intake have been re-anchored.
  Today, the portion size (weight, volume) of a single serving of food sold in American supermarkets is 1.5 times that of the past; a home cookbook more than ten years ago stated that the portion size was enough for eight people, but now it is only enough for four people.
  In addition, the width of shopping mall revolving doors has increased by 20% in the past 10 years, clothing manufacturers have been forced to produce more clothes in plus sizes, and car manufacturers have continued to advertise “more space in the car”.
  A marketing tool designed to sell more French fries and Cokes actually caused fundamental changes in people’s lifestyles and eating habits, and even caused more serious social problems (such as obesity). The “anchoring effect” The power cannot be underestimated.
  ”Anchoring” often occurs unconsciously, but its impact is long-lasting and long-lasting. For us, understanding the “anchoring effect” allows us to notice these changes and make adjustments based on our own circumstances. Maybe, say “no” when the cashier asks us, “Would you like bigger fries?” – who says it’s only other people who can “anchor” our lives?