Large food portions: Indicative of status?

There's a widespread American stereotype that bigger is better. Houses, cars, TVs, buildings - all these things are collectively deemed more valuable as their size increases.

There's a widespread American stereotype that bigger is better. Houses, cars, TVs, buildings - all these things are collectively deemed more valuable as their size increases.

Surprisingly, that same sentiment may be extended to food portions, as new research suggests disadvantaged individuals - or households with low socioeconomic status - tend to choose larger food portions because they feel it "boosts their social standing."

According to Time magazine, a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research analyzed subjects' impression of consumers' statuses according to the size of their food choices. Participants consistently viewed consumers who chose big items as being more respected, even when it was explained that all the foodstuffs, regardless of size, were free.

"When I'm deprived, I have a need, at least for a moment, to get rid of that discrepancy between who I'd like to be and who I am right now," researcher Derek Rucker, a marketing professor at Northwestern University, told Time. "And supersizing provides one opportunity."

The findings align with obesity rates in the U.S. While healthcare expenses may begin to taper off next year, according to a recent Mercer study, obesity is a growing epidemic that is driving a large portion of insurance costs.