Portion Distortion and the Last Supper

How much would Jesus eat? The answer—as determined by depictions of the last supper—vary by era, say two brothers—an eating behavior expert and a religious studies scholar:

Brian and Craig Wansink teamed up to analyze the amount of food depicted in 52 of the best-known paintings of the Last Supper. After indexing the sizes of the foods by the sizes of the average disciple’s head, they found that portion size, plate size, and bread size increased dramatically over the last one thousand years. Overall, the main courses depicted in the paintings grew by 69%, plate size by 66%, and bread size by 23%.

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“I think people assume that increased serving sizes, or ‘portion distortion,’ is a recent phenomenon,” said Brian Wansink, professor and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.“ But this research indicates that it’s a general trend for at least the last millennium.”