Wednesday, May 12, 2010

super-sizing the Last Supper

From research by Brian and Craig Wansink in The International Journal of Obesity (hat tip: the C-J, but the link is no longer available)...

The brothers look for evidence of increases in portion sizes in "the most commonly painted meal"-- the Last Supper of Jesus Christ.

A CAD–CAM analysis of the relative food-to-head ratio in 52 representative paintings of the Last Supper showed that the relative sizes of the main dish (entree) (r=0.52, P=0.002), bread (r=0.30, P=0.04), and plates (r=0.46, P=0.02) have linearly increased over the past millennium...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%....Results of a nonlinear regression of years to entrée size show a nonlinear increase in the size of entrées over the years...

Although lamb would have normally been served during a Seder, the three accounts of the event make no mention of food other than bread and wine. Indeed, what has not been analyzed is how the depiction of food has changed with time...The main dishes depicted in the paintings contained included fish or eel (18%), lamb (14%) and pork (7%); the remaining paintings had no discernable main dish (46%)....


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