News and Articles

Stay up to date on Noyes Health news

March 14, 2016

Diabetes Alert 2016

March 22nd is the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Alert day. The theme once again is “Take it”, the ADA diabetes risk test; “Share it”, share this test with those you care about; “Step out” start learning and start a healthy and active lifestyle and join one of the walks for Diabetes in your area. According to the CDC, an estimated 29.1 million Americans have diabetes. Of this number, Type 1 diabetes affects 5% of the diabetic population and those with this type have no insulin production left in the pancreas. The remaining 95% have type 2 diabetes where either insufficient insulin is produced by the beta cells or the body’s cells have become resistant to the insulin and don’t use the insulin efficiently or both. In Livingston County, 10.2% of the population is diabetic, up from last years’9.5%! In addition, 86 million Americans haver pre-diabetes, up from last years’ 79 million! For those with pre-diabetes, your challenge is to take advantage of every opportunity to learn more about what can be done to either put off the progression to diabetes or not become diabetic at all. For those with diabetes, your challenge is to meet the condition head on and take charge, do not let it take charge of you. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that only 40.6% of those with diabetes ever take advantage of the education which would help them self-manage the condition. Yet, insurance companies know that their participants with diabetes education have medical costs 2.3 times lower than the person who has not taken a diabetes course. Livingston County has the resources you need close to home. The Noyes Hospital Diabetes Education Program is available in Dansville, Hornell, Geneseo and in four area physician offices. The program is recognized by the American Association of Diabetes Educators and staffed with two RN, Certified Diabetes Educators. There are individual appointments to begin and thanks to a rural health grant, 5 hours of free diabetes education classes which includes a free meal to help participants make better food choices It is estimated that 8.1 million individuals have no idea they are diabetic. Find out if you are one of these individuals or at risk for diabetes. Take the test in this issue and find out. Be alert to your risk factors and discuss them with your physician. Nancy M. Johnsen RN, CDE is a Certified Diabetes Educator and Community Health Education Coordinator at Noyes Memorial Hospital. Call 585-335-4355 today and start to take charge! Diabetes increases the risk for some significant health problems which include; heart disease, amputations, stroke, kidney damage, blindness, gum disease, nerve damage, and possibly dementia. Don’t be one of the statistics! The Risk Test can also be found on the hospital website; Read More

March 6, 2016

Breakfast - The Most Important Meal of the Day

Every day, approximately 31 million Americans skip breakfast – that’s about 10% of the population. Another percentage may grab a little something but not enough to fill their tummies. Study after study confirms that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. People who eat a good breakfast are healthier physically, mentally, and socially. Front loading our calories early in our day helps manage weight, decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, reduces cravings for sweets, and improves cognitive abilities such as math problem solving and word use. Consuming most of our food before noon is especially critical to losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight. A Tel Aviv University study found that those who eat their largest daily meal at breakfast are far more likely to lose weight and waistline circumference than those who eat a large dinner. The 2013 study established that dieters on a 1400 calorie diet who ate a big breakfast and a modest dinner lost 240% more weight than others in the study who had a big dinner and a modest breakfast. Breakfast also feeds the brain. A 2015 study by Cardiff University showed that children are twice as likely to score higher than average grades if they start the day with a healthy breakfast. According to a study from the nonprofit organization, Share Our Strength, kids who eat breakfast score 17.5% higher on math tests than kids who skip breakfast. And a University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing study showed that children who regularly eat breakfast tally up significantly higher scores in verbal and performance IQ tests. Finally, it turns out eating breakfast is good for your social life. In 2015, the International Journal of Dental Hygiene published a study that showed teens who skip breakfast are significantly more likely to suffer from bad breath than teens who eat breakfast. Further studies indicate that women who skip breakfast are often “cranky.” Bad breath plus cranky equals a not so wonderful way to start the day socially! So what is a good breakfast? The simple answer is one that includes protein, complex carbohydrates, and a bit of healthy fat to fill you up. Equally important, it is one you will eat! Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet, suggests these simple breakfast ideas: One cup low-fat or non-fat plain Greek yogurt and one cup berries (frozen or fresh) topped with chopped walnuts or high-fiber cereal Whole wheat English muffin with 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter and banana slices Half cup oats cooked with either low-fat milk or water with bananas, apples, or berries One cup whole grain cereal such as shredded wheat with one cup low-fat or non-fat milk and sliced bananas or berries An egg cooked any way you like it with whole wheat toast and a favorite fruit or for a savory option, top the egg with salsa. Not super hungry in the morning or always pressed for time, try one of these options: One granola bar – pick one that has whole grains and low sugar One hard-boiled egg and a banana One cup plain or vanilla yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit One cup low-fat or non-fat milk or chocolate milk One good size piece of cheese and an apple Not fond of breakfast foods, think outside the cereal box: Beans and corn tortillas Leftovers from last night’s dinner Turkey or tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread Soup Stir fried veggies and brown rice Stewed chicken with sweet potatoes Hummus and veggies The key take away regarding breakfast is this – Just Eat It! Consume most of your calories for the day in the morning hours, aim for a mix of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fat, and find something that works for you. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

February 29, 2016

Noyes Health Designated Blue Distinction® Center for Maternity Care

2/29/2016 Dansville, NY – In an effort to help prospective parents find hospitals that deliver quality maternity care, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield announced that Noyes Health has been designated as one of the first hospitals to receive the Blue Distinction Center for Maternity Care designation, a new designation under the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program. Nearly four million babies are born in the U.S. annually, making childbirth the most common cause of hospitalization. This new Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program evaluates hospitals on several quality measures, including the percentage of newborns that fall into the category of early elective delivery, an ongoing concern in the medical community. Compared with babies born 39 weeks or later, early term infants face higher risks of infant death and respiratory ailments such as respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonia, and respiratory failure, among other conditions. These babies also have a higher rate of admission to Neonatal Intensive Care Units. In addition, hospitals that receive a Blue Distinction Center for Maternity Care designation agreed to meet requirements that align with principles that support evidence-based practices of care, as well as having initiated programs to promote successful breastfeeding, as described in the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative by Baby-Friendly USA or the Mother-Friendly Hospital program by the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) through its “Ten Steps of Mother-Friendly Care.” The program also evaluates hospitals on overall patient satisfaction, including a willingness to recommend the hospital to others. Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care, an expansion of the national Blue Distinction® Specialty Care program, are hospitals recognized for delivering quality specialty care safely and effectively, based on objective measures developed with input from the medical community. “The healthcare team here at the Noyes Health Birthing Center strives to provide quality care, the quality of care our new parents will never forget!” said Birthing Center Nurse Manager, DeNae Gibson, RN, MSN, CLC. “We want each family’s experience with us to be filled with excellence and enthusiasm. So, for Noyes Health, achieving Blue Designation tells the story of our commitment to a history of excellence for delivering quality maternity care to our community.” Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies across the nation have recognized more than 280 hospitals as Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care. Hospitals recognized for these designations were assessed using a combination of publicly available quality information and cost measures derived from BCBS companies’ medical claims. Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality providers for their specialty care needs in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery and transplants. Research shows that compared to other facilities, those designated as Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients. For more information about the Noyes Health Birthing Center or to request a tour call Birthing Center Nurse Manager, DeNae Gibson, RN, MSN, CLC at 585-335-4293. For more information on Noyes Health visit, Noyes Health Facebook Page, or contact Cynthia Oswald, PR/Marketing Director, at or 585-335-4323. For more information about the program, visit Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to about 1.5 million people across upstate New York. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provides access to high-quality, affordable health coverage, including valuable health-related resources that our members use every day, such as cost-saving prescription drug discounts and wellness tracking tools. To learn more, visit About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for nearly 105 million members – one in three Americans. For more information on the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out The BCBS Blog, for up-to-date information about BCBSA. About Blue Distinction Centers Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for facilities located in its own service area; for details, contact your Local Blue Plan. Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable health care. Each facility’s cost of care is evaluated using data from its Local Blue Plan. Facilities in CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in two Local Blue Plans’ areas, resulting in two evaluations for cost of care; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether one or both cost of care evaluation(s) must meet BDC+ national criteria. National criteria for BDC and BDC+ are displayed on Individual outcomes may vary. For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your Local Blue Plan and ask your provider before making an appointment. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for non-covered charges or other losses or damages resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers. ... Read More

February 26, 2016

Living Healthy Workshops

One out of every two adults in the U.S. has at least one chronic disease. A chronic disease, as defined by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, is one lasting 3 months or more. Chronic diseases generally cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication, nor do they just disappear. Chronic diseases and conditions—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis—are among the most common and costly of all health problems. According to the CDC, chronic diseases are responsible for 7 of 10 deaths each year, and treating people with chronic diseases accounts for 86% of our nation’s health care costs. There are, however, other costs to consider besides dollars and cents. Chronic diseases can take a toll on people’s lives – the pain, the limitation, and the poor emotional health all compromise the quality of daily life. In addition, caregivers of those with chronic disease struggle with burnout and poor health. Over the last 20 years, several programs have been developed to meet the needs of both populations, the patients and those who care for them. These educational workshops are evidence-based meaning they incorporate: (1) the best available research evidence (2) clinical expertise, and (3) client preferences and values. Furthermore, they are designed to address the everyday issues of those dealing with chronic disease and offer tools and techniques for self-management. These self-management education programs have been proven to significantly help people with chronic diseases. For example, the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (Living Healthy program) helps participants learn self-management skills needed to help deal with the symptoms of their chronic condition and the life role changes and emotions experienced when living with a chronic condition. The emphasis of the workshop’s curriculum is to help people: manage common problems such as fatigue; communicate with friends, family, and providers; deal with anger and depression; and design and maintain a healthy eating and exercise plan. In addition, participants learn disease related decision-making and problem solving skills. As a result, these tools help participants reduce pain, depression, fear, and frustration; improve mobility and exercise; increase energy; and boost confidence in their ability to manage their condition. The most important outcome is that people become more confident and are able to maintain more active lives. Powerful Tools for Caregivers is another evidence based six-week program which focuses on the needs of caregivers. It is for family and friends who are caring for older adults suffering with long-term conditions. The class provides caregivers the skills and confidence needed to take better care of themselves, while caring for others. Caregivers develop a wealth of self-care tools to: reduce personal stress, change negative self-talk, communicate their needs to family members and healthcare providers, communicate more effectively in challenging situations, deal with difficult emotions, and make tough caregiving decisions. UR Noyes Health will be offering both of these workshops free of charge to the public. Workshops are taught by trained, certified instructors. Classes are 2 ½ hours long, once a week, for six weeks. Class size is limited. Spring workshops will be held at the York Town Hall, Wayland Library, and Geneseo Goodwill starting in April. If you would like more information or want to register: call 585-335-4358 or email To learn more about Living Healthy programs, go to: This article was a collaborative effort of Christa Barrows, Caregiver Resources Coordinator, and Lorraine Wichtowski, Community Health Educator at Noyes Health. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles Lorraine can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

February 18, 2016

Eating Healthy on a Budget

A trip to the supermarket is one decision after another. It can be overwhelming sorting through all the varieties and options. Even the humble egg has been lifted to new heights, as one can now buy brown, white, medium, large, extra-large, jumbo, cage-free, organic, free-range, with omega-3, pasteurized, all-natural, and vegetarian eggs. In addition, according to the Food Marketing Institute, the number of products at the average supermarket swelled from 8,948 products in 1975 to almost 47,000 in 2008! While some believe all these choices are great for the consumer, others believe it confuses the matter and causes consumers to make impulsive, poor decisions. According to the Consumer Reports National Research Center, 36% of consumers feel overwhelmed by the information they need to process while deciding on a purchase. With so many choices, it can be hard to decipher what is healthy. In addition, Consumer Reports indicates “the bewildering number of choices can obscure price disparities.” That is, what is a good deal and what is not. Bottom line, folks need to know what is healthy and what fits in their budgets. The good news is that the healthiest items are the simplest items. They don’t require wading through labels, ingredient lists, or endless varieties. Going to the grocery store is easy if you know two basic things: 1) How to define healthy and 2) Where to find those items. A healthy diet is defined very simply as a balanced diet that includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, protein, and dairy. It has minimal amounts of refined sugar (white sugar), saturated fats, salt, caffeine, and alcohol. It is food that is closest to its original form as possible; meaning the less processed the better. Processing takes out nutrients and adds chemicals not originally found in food. For example, plain old-fashioned oats are better for you than the packets of instant oatmeal that have added sugars, colorings, and preservatives. Likewise, plain yogurt in a large tub is better for you than colored yogurt in a long tube. The following is a list of healthy foods: Whole grains – rich in fiber, minerals, and vitamins – whole wheat, brown rice, bulger, corn, buckwheat, oats, wild rice, quinoa, farro Fruits and veggies – rich in vital vitamins, minerals, and fiber – fresh, frozen, canned, or dried Protein – needed to build and repair tissue – meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, tofu Dairy – good source of calcium – milk, yogurt (plain or vanilla), cheese What is not on the list is anything processed such as potato chips, crackers, candy, canned ravioli, frozen burritos, chicken nuggets, or the like. The healthiest items in the grocery store tend to be in the perimeter with the exception of frozen vegetables and fruits, dried and canned beans, and items such as olive oil. For folks trying to slim their waistlines, shopping in the healthy aisles only and avoiding the snack food aisles can be part of a comprehensive weight management program. But isn’t eating healthy more expensive? While it is true that certain cuts of meat, exotic and out of season fruits and veggies, and some grains are expensive, there are plenty of options that are actually budget friendly. Take for example, chicken nuggets. They are a staple in many households because children like them; they are cheap, and easy. Chicken nuggets cost approximately $8.74 for 26 servings which is 33 cents per serving. One serving has 9g of protein, 430Mg sodium, and 8g fat. Tuna, lentils, kidney beans, and eggs, all good alternative sources of protein, come in at 11-35 cents per serving. All have less sodium, less fat, and more protein (10-16g). So serving up a tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread (go light on the mayo or use Greek yogurt) or cooking up red beans with brown rice is actually in the same price range and better for you than chicken nuggets. Other ideas for eating healthy on a budget include: Make a grocery list and stick to it. Take a few minutes to plan your meals for the week and make a grocery list. If it is not on the list, don’t buy it! Prep veggies, fruits, and nuts ahead in small containers or bags. Set up your own healthy grab and go snack center in your frig and cupboard. Eat leftovers – grab a storage container before you eat dinner. Put the next day’s lunch in the container before you sit down. This will save you lunch money and keep you from eating seconds at the dinner table. Only buy gas at the gas station. Eat whole real foods in their original form as much as possible. Drink water throughout the day. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

February 8, 2016

NYS Senator Cathy Young Tours the Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center Project in Dansville

Noyes Health was pleased to host New York State Senator, Cathy Young for a tour of the Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center project on Saturday, February 6th. Senator Young made a quick stop between scheduled events in the area to see, first-hand, the progress of the site work which will become the concrete vault for the cancer center linear accelerator, and visit the renovated Diagnostic Imaging and Physical Therapy space which will be opening soon. Tim Levee, Pike Company Project Superintendent and Deb McCray, Noyes Health Engineering Project Manager explained to Senator Young what phase the cancer center project was in and the next steps needed to complete the vault, along with additional renovations that would be occurring to existing space in the hospital. Amy Pollard, Noyes Health President/CEO was on hand to welcome the Senator, along with Mike Donegan, Director of Diagnostics and Rehab Therapy and Cynthia Oswald, Director of the Foundation and PR. The cancer center is a collaborative project between Wilmot Cancer Institute, Jones Memorial Hospital and Noyes Health. The Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center will be located on the campus of Noyes Hospital and provide patients in the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Western New York more convenient access to comprehensive cancer care. It will serve as a hub for oncology services, and includes a medical oncology clinic in Hornell, Steuben County. Established with a $2 million gift from Ann and Carl Myers, the regional cancer center at Noyes is expected to be completed in 2017. The $5.8 million project will feature a 4,500-square-foot, lower level addition to house radiation oncology clinic and a 2,300-square-foot medical oncology clinic, featuring three exam rooms and five chemotherapy/infusion bays, in renovated and new first-floor space. The regional cancer center will also provide patients with access to services including advanced diagnostic testing, clinical trials, outpatient palliative care, and Wilmot Cancer Institute’s Judy DiMarzo Cancer Survivorship Program. Physicians at the cancer center and medical oncology clinic at Jones will have access to UR Medicine’s region-wide electronic medical record system and regular consultations with multidisciplinary teams focused on cancer. The Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center project is unique in our region and comes at a time when health systems across the country are forging relationships to ensure specialty services while improving quality. For more information on Noyes Health visit, Noyes Health Facebook Page #AnnandCarlMyersCancerCenter, or contact Cynthia Oswald, PR/Marketing Director, at or 585-335-4323. ... Read More

February 3, 2016

Noyes Health Auxiliary Hosts Guest Speakers from UR Medicine Wilmot Cancer Institute

The Noyes Health Auxiliary held its annual meeting dinner at Jack’s Place in Dansville on Tuesday, January 27th. Guest speakers for the dinner were Dr. Chunkit Fung and Dr. Elizabeth Guancial, both from UR Medicine, Wilmot Cancer Institute. They spoke to the group about working with patients with cancer, bladder cancers in particular, and the holistic approach Wilmot takes. Most importantly they told the group of women attendees that many support programs for cancer patients will be made available in Dansville. The two young and impressive physicians shared their excitement for the Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center project in Dansville. They also explained how Wilmot Cancer Institute works with its regional partners to provide exceptional care for patients at all treatment locations. President/CEO of Noyes Health, Amy Pollard gave an update on the cancer center and all the construction and renovations taking place at the hospital. Auxiliary officers for 2016 were elected by the members present. Auxiliary President, Gerri Long; Vice-President, Mary Ann Scharmburg; Treasurer, Mary Hoad; Secretary, Loretta Stratton. The Noyes Memorial Hospital Auxiliary which began in 1952 as a small group of local women is now a group of over 120 dedicated volunteers from Dansville and the surrounding communities whose primary goal is to conduct fundraising projects and donate the proceeds to Noyes Health. The biggest source of revenue is the Spice Box Gift Shop and Coffee Bar located in the hospital lobby. The Gift Shop began in 1962 as a cabinet with items to purchase in the main lobby of the “old” hospital. It is now a full service shop with dedicated space in the hospital lobby carrying unique gift items, jewelry, fresh flowers and coffee bar open to the public. The Auxiliary has sponsored and donated to many of the hospital’s improvement projects throughout the years and is the second largest donor to the Mary Saunders Beiermann Emergency Department which opened in June of 2014. At the dinner Gerri Long presented a check for $56,500.00 to Amy Pollard, the second installment of the auxiliary’s four year commitment to the Mary Saunders Beiermann Emergency Department project. For more information on the Spice Box, how to volunteer or make a donation please contact Sue Mettler, Manager at 585-335-4288 or . ... Read More

January 31, 2016

Heart Disease

GOT A MINUTE February is Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 610,000 Americans die of heart disease each year. That is one of every four deaths in the U.S. Understanding the basics of heart disease, common symptoms, and risk factors is the first step to being heart healthy. Heart disease refers to several types of conditions. The most common condition is coronary heart disease (CHD) which can cause a heart attack and kills more than 370,000 annually. Anyone can develop heart disease. According to the CDC, it occurs when a substance called plaque builds up in your arteries. When this happens, your arteries narrow over time, reducing blood flow to the heart. This may eventually lead to a heart attack. There are two categories of risk factors for heart disease. The first category is beyond a person’s control. These include demographic and genetic characteristics such as growing older, being male, having a parent or parents with heart disease, or your ethnicity. The latest statistics from the CDC indicate that heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most racial/ethnic groups in the United States including African Americans, Hispanics, and whites. The second category is under a person’s control. This category involves several physiological factors or lifestyle choices, many of which can be controlled by the person or through medication. The American Heart Association and CDC both agree that the following factors put a person at higher risk for heart disease: High blood pressure High cholesterol Smoking Diabetes Overweight and obesity Poor diet Physical inactivity Excessive alcohol use It is also important to know the warning signs of a heart attack so you or someone with you can call for help right away. Not everyone will experience every symptom. Although some heart attacks are sudden and intense, many start slowly with mild pain or discomfort over the course of several days. In general, someone having a heart attack may experience several of the following symptoms: Chest pain or discomfort that does not go away after a few minutes. Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back. Weakness, light-headedness, nausea, or cold sweat Shortness of breath If you think that you or someone you know is having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. If when you look at the risk factors, you do not know your numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol, weight) or you do know that you are at risk; make an appointment to see your doctor. You can also visit the American Heart Association’s My Life Check site at This health assessment and improvement tool encourages you to take actions and form habits to improve your heart health. After you complete an easy assessment, you will receive a Heart Health Score with recommendations to make improvements, and track your progress. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

January 29, 2016

Look Good Feel Better

Cancer can rob a woman of her energy, appetite, and strength. But it doesn’t have to take away her self-confidence. Look Good Feel Better is a FREE program that teaches beauty techniques to women in active cancer treatment. The workshop includes skincare, makeup application, nail care and accessory style tips. Every woman will receive a complimentary makeup kit to take home. The next Look Good Feel Better session is on Monday, February 29th from 10 am to noon in conference room D at Noyes Health hospital in Dansville. Registration is required, please call 1-800-227-2345. ... Read More

January 27, 2016

Plate sizes and Our Waistlines

Got A Minute? I am a huge Downton Abby fan. If you are not a fan, Downton Abbey is PBS period series that focuses on the lives of an aristocratic family and their cadre of servants in early 20th century England. The producers of the show have made a great effort to be historically accurate in the smallest of details such as tableware. As I was watching the show this past week, my eye caught the size of the wine glasses and plates on the table. It struck me that everything looked substantially smaller than our current tableware. The wineglasses looked nothing like the currently popular gold fish bowls that pass as wine glasses. I could not help thinking that this was somehow significant. My curiosity led me to the research of Cornell University professor, Brian Wansink. Mr. Wansink, author of “Mindless Eating, Why We Eat More Than We Think,” discovered that indeed our plates are bigger today than 50 years ago – 12 inches compared to 9 inches. It turns out; our portion sizes are bigger too. This is significant in a country where 54% of adults aim to finish everything on their plates at every meal. It is equally significant in light of the current obesity epidemic. According to the CDC, in 1996, the obesity rate in the US was between 10 and 19%. Twenty years later no state in the union has a rate less than 20% with 18 states coming in at 30-35%. Furthermore, three states currently have rates that top 35%. So what lessons can we learn from Wansink and others in the food research world. Professor Wansink’s research shows that large bowls, plates, and glasses lead to more eating all for the same reason – they make portions look smaller. Our brains think there isn’t as much food because the size of the plate dwarfs the food. What is truly fascinating, however, is the connection between the serving sizes and the serving dishes. The Cornell Food and Brand Lab found that people feel equally full whether they eat off a small plate or large plate. (i.e., whether they consume 300 or 600 calories) The reality, however, is that most of our plates are larger with bigger portions and even people who think they are aware of portion sizes and caloric intake will often inadvertently consume more calories. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reports the average portion sizes have grown so much over the past 20 years that sometimes the plate arrives and there's enough food for two or even three people on it. Growing portion sizes are changing what Americans think of as a "normal" portion at home too. This is called portion distortion. For example, 20 years ago, the average bagel was 3 inches in diameter and had 140 calories. Today the average bagel is 6 inches wide and comes in at 350 calories. In addition, the calorie/serving size link can be seen in cookbooks. “The Joy of Cooking,” has changed drastically over the years. The Cornell crew looked at recipes in seven editions of the famous cookbook spanning 70 years for serving size and caloric levels. According to a 2009 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, “Over the period of time and cookbook editions, 18 recipes were continuously published in every edition. In 14 of these 18 recipes, the number of calories in the recipe increased by a whopping 43.7%. Serving sizes have increased gradually throughout the years and cookbook editions. The largest jump is a 33.2% increase in portion serving sizes since 1996 alone. This expanded portion size helps explain why calories per serving have increased from an average of 168.8 calories to 436.9 calories, which is a 63% increase in calories per serving. The chicken gumbo recipe for example, went from making 14 servings at 228 calories each in the 1936 edition, to making 10 servings at 576 calories each in the 2006 version.” Being aware of tableware sizes and portions is a good place to start on the road to healthy eating. The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the Cornell Food and Brand lab suggest the following tips when faced with large portions: Restaurant eating – Split an entrée with a friend or ask the server to put half the meal in a doggie bag before it’s brought to the table. Eating at home – To minimize second and third helpings, serve reasonable portions on individual plates, instead of putting the serving dishes on the table. Keep the extra across the kitchen out of reach. Get rid of your large plates and glasses. Antique and second hand stores are great places to find smaller plates and glasses (often at a better price than new!) TV snacking – Instead of eating out of the bag of chips, box of crackers, or container of ice cream, put an actual serving size per the label in a bowl. Between meal snacking – Snacking is good for you. It can keep you from overeating at meals. Grab fruit, veggie sticks, salad, nuts, or seeds. In the kitchen – Store tempting items like cookies and chips out of sight; place them on very high or very low shelves or behind something else. (better yet, buy them only occasionally as a treat) Replace the candy bowl with a fruit bowl on the counter. Put healthier items like brown rice, oatmeal, or quinoa at eye level in the cupboard. To learn more about portion control and everyday helpful hints, go to or Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More