Understanding the science of portion control and the art of downsizing

Marion M. Hetherington, Pam Blundell-Birtill, Samantha J. Caton, Joanne E. Cecil, Charlotte E. Evans, Barbara J. Rolls, Tang Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Offering large portions of high-energy-dense (HED) foods increases overall intake in children and adults. This is known as the portion size effect (PSE). It is robust, reliable and enduring. Over time, the PSE may facilitate overeating and ultimately positive energy balance. Therefore, it is important to understand what drives the PSE and what might be done to counter the effects of an environment promoting large portions, especially in children. Explanations for the PSE are many and diverse, ranging from consumer error in estimating portion size to simple heuristics such as cleaning the plate or eating in accordance with consumption norms. However, individual characteristics and hedonic processes influence the PSE, suggesting a more complex explanation than error or heuristics. Here PSE studies are reviewed to identify interventions that can be used to downsize portions of HED foods, with a focus on children who are still learning about social norms for portion size. Although the scientific evidence for the PSE is robust, there is still a need for creative downsizing solutions to facilitate portion control as children and adolescents establish their eating habits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-355
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Nutrition Society
Volume77
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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