Well, in fairness, Jesus’ twelve Apostles should also share in the blame.
An incredibly quirky and yet fascinating study was just published in the International Journal of Obesity which investigated the size of the food and plates that have been depicted in paintings of Jesus’ Last Supper over the last 1000 years.
The trend of gradually increasing portion sizes is well documented; just go to your local McDonalds and order a large drink and fries and drive yourself directly to the nearby hospital for a bypass.
Thus, Wansink & Wansink (maybe a married couple) decided to directly compare the portion sizes in various historical renderings of what is considered to be the most famous meal ever.
I always love when quirky studies try to make their methods some uber-scientific, as in this case:
“…52 of the best known depictions of the Last Supper over the last millennium (1000-2000 AD/CE) were analyzed for content and coded to determine changes over time. The sizes of the loaves of bread, main dishes and plates were assessed. To account for the varying dimensions of the paintings, the average sizes of these items were indexed based on the average size of the heads depicted in the paintings. This was aided by the use of a CAD-CAM program that allowed the items to be scanned, rotated and calculated, regardless of their original orientation in the painting. An index of 2.0 for the bread would indicate that the average width of the bread was twice the width of the average disciple’s head.”
And what did the authors discover?
As you’d expect, over the past 1000 years, Jesus and his apostles have progressively grown bigger appetites.
“From its depiction circa 1000 AD/CE to the present, the ratio of this main course entree has generally increased by 69.2%. Similarly, the ratio of the size of bread has increased by 23.1% and that of the size of plate by 65.6%.”
So there you have it, if you have a more recent rendering of The Last Supper hanging in your dining room, the depictions of plentiful food had by Jesus and his friends, may just push you to eat that second helping of dry bread and fish.
Just remember- “What would Jesus do?”
Have a great weekend,
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Wansink, B., & Wansink, C. (2010). The largest Last Supper: depictions of food portions and plate size increased over the millennium International Journal of Obesity DOI: 10.1038/ijo.2010.37