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Are you overeating? Canadians underestimate serving sizes: study

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Thousands of Canadians will be enjoying backyard barbeques this long weekend. But how many realize that eating a large steak would put them over the amount of meat they should be consuming in a day, according to Canada's Food Guide?

Apparently, most Canadians have little understanding of what a serving size actually looks like, and it could be leading many of us to overeat.

New research from York University suggests most Canadians underestimate what constitutes one serving of meat, grains and fruits and vegetables under Canada's Food Guide.

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The researchers asked 145 people, including white, black, South Asian and East Asian adults, about serving sizes and their daily consumption habits.

All four ethnic groups included in the study were wrong about how many servings they were eating in a day. They underestimated how many servings of meat, grains, fruits and vegetables they were actually consuming, and overestimated the amount of milk and alternatives they were consuming.

"The majority of participants in the study inaccurately thought they would need to increase their food consumption by approximately 400 calories to meet recommendations in Canada's Food Guide," Jennifer Kuk, one of the study's authors and professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science at York University, said in a news release.

The study authors point out that an eight-ounce steak actually exceeds the daily allowance of meat and alternatives under Canada's Food Guide. Half a cup of cooked pasta constitutes one entire serving of grains under the food guide.

The researchers suggest serving sizes may need to be adjusted in light of the fact that many people have no clear understanding of how much of each food group they should be consuming in a day.

Do you understand serving sizes? Do you eat according to Canada's Food Guide?

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About the Author

Carly Weeks has been a journalist with The Globe and Mail since 2007.  She has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. More

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