Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Painting of Last Supper Shows Dietary Changes

Actors perform in a re-enactment of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ on Good Friday in San Ignacio, Misiones province, March 21, 2008. Photo courtesy: REUTERS/Jorge Adorno

For many, the Last Supper is not only inspirational - it is a representation of the last time Christ and his companions were together in harmony. No one expected the paintings to become part of a commentary on our dietary habits over the past 1,000 years.

A US study has revealed that since Biblical times, people have been gradually increasing the amount of food they are eating. The researchers studied more than 50 paintings of the Last Supper before reaching these conclusions.

Brian Wansink, a Cornell University professorand director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab; and, Craig Wansink, his brother, a Presbyterian minister and religious studies professor at Virginia Wesleyan College, were responsible for bringing this intriguing piece of information to light. They discovered that the sizes of food portions and plate size in artworks have gradually increased by between 23% - 69% over the past millenium.

"The last thousand years have witnessed dramatic increases in the production, availability, safety, abundance and affordability of food," Wansink, author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think," said in a statement.

"We think that as art imitates life, these changes have been reflected in paintings of history's most famous dinner."

The brothers analyzed 52 paintings featured in the 2000 book "Last Supper" by Phaidon Press. Then they used computer-aided design technology to compare the size of the main meals, entrees, bread and plates to the average size of the disciples' heads.

At the end of the study the results were that the main meal has increased in size by 69%; plate size by 66%; and bread size by 23%.

The results were published in the April edition of The International Journal of Obesity.

Via Yahoo! News

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