Bigger Last Supper

Portion sizes in paintings of Jesus’ last supper have grown exponentially in the last 1,000 years in a strange parallel of changing eating habits, showing that art imitates life.

Portion sizes in paintings of Jesus’ Last Supper have grown exponentially in the last 1,000 years in a strange parallel of changing eating habits, showing that art imitates life. Scientists have found that in various renditions of Christ’s last meal, the size of the plates being eaten off by the disciples and the amount of food on offer has grown considerably over the centuries. Experts studied dozens of paintings from AD1,000 up until recent times and found that the apostles suffered a type of "food inflation" comparable with supersized portions in fast food restaurants. Professor Brian Wansink of Cornell University in New York remarked that the findings indicate that the phenomenon of serving bigger portions on bigger plates, which has helped spark the obesity crisis, has occurred gradually over the last millennium. The main dish grew by 69 per cent overall; the size of the plates went up 66 per cent; and the size of the bread grew by 23 per cent. "The last 1,000 years have witnessed dramatic increases in the production, availability, safety, abundance and affordability of food. We think that these changes have been reflected in paintings of history's most famous dinner," Wansink said.

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Sponsored by Northwell Health
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Culture & Religion
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Abid Katib/Getty Images
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Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
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