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Darden exec: Schools must teach portion control

Clarence Otis Jr.

Clarence Otis Jr.

NEW YORK CITY — Schools must teach children portion control to address issues of obesity and waste, the chief executive of the world’s largest full-service restaurant company said here during the Clinton Global Initiative meeting last month.

“In the West we eat too much,” Darden Restaurants CEO Clarence Otis. Jr., said during a September 25 discussion on “The Future of Food.”

The problem of obesity, Otis added, “is much less about what you eat than how much you eat.”

“A role of government is to educate the public” and that role includes “using public school budgets so people know what overeating looks like,” Otis said.

In what appeared to be a veiled reference to some nutrition advocates criticizing certain food groups and restaurant chains for encouraging children to eat supersize portions, Darden said that teaching portion control is a much better approach “as opposed to demonizing various players.”

But without such education, he said, “Asking a restaurant to reduce portion size is like asking customers to go to another restaurant.”

Darden operates Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and Eddie V’s.