According to data provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation, men are statistically more obese than women, despite the plethora of weight management adverts that target women. Still, I cannot help but wonder how the ever-growing serving sizes of commercial food chains affect obesity in women.
Carl’s Jr. aired a commercial in 2014 in which the female character from X-Men, Mystique, transforms into a man to eat the whopping 1050 calorie bacon cheese burger that the company unveiled as an X-tra Bacon Thickburger. After the commercial, criticism over sexism poured out from writers with headlines such as Huffington Post’s, “Women Superheroes are no Match for Burgers, According to Carl’s Jr.,” and Policy Mic’s, “Carl’s Jr.’s Sexist New Ad is as Bad for Women as it is for Men.”
Is food always gender-neutral, though? While the controversial Carl’s Jr. Advertisement may have waxed slightly uncomfortable for a good portion of its viewing audience, the idea that some food packages sold may in fact be a little more appropriate for a gender with a higher metabolism is something worth discussing in the realm of an obesity epidemic. The average woman needs approximately 500 calories less a day than the average man. So while our caloric needs differ from person to person, and yes, there will be tall women and women who are more physical and therefore need a higher caloric intake than average women, perhaps looking at food portions as being gender neutral conflicts with maintaining a healthy caloric intake. Eating out has been linked to an excess of calories, and Newcastle University conducted a study that found that when women begin living with a partner, weight gain increases as the women begin eating what their partners eat.
The possibility that women eating man-sized portions increases their chances for weight gain does not explain why, statistically, men present a higher rate of obesity. One possibility for the increased weight gain could be that the portion sizes have increased so significantly, in response to a higher demand for bigger portions, that both men and women have increased their waistlines. While there is little support for a hypothesis that man-sized portions have negatively affected the woman’s waistline, considering portion size in terms of personal caloric needs is always a good way to approach food.