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Weight Loss - Portion Sizes
Large Food Serving Sizes Lead to Higher Calorie Intake, Overweight and Obesity
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Weight Loss and Portion Sizes

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Americans are known for excess, and food is not excluded. Portion sizes of food are often large and include more than one serving, which may be contributing to the increased prevalence of obesity in the country.

Weight Loss Study & Portion Sizes (1)
One weight loss study, in which experimenters served men increasing portions of macaroni and cheese, found that participants ate more food when portions were increased by as little as 27 percent. Although intake increased with the amount of food presented, ratings of fullness after the meal were not affected. This suggests that portion size may influence hunger and the feeling of satisfaction after a meal, according to researchers, because as more food was offered, it took longer for participants to reach satiation.

Weight Loss Study & Portion Sizes (2)
Conversely, in another weight loss study researchers manipulated portion sizes of lasagna and found that men consumed a substantially greater amount of food only when portion size was at least doubled. These two weight loss studies show that people responded to both small and large portion size increases.

Weight Loss Study & Portion Sizes (3)
Previous weight loss studies have shown that when adults serve themselves, the amount of food taken remained constant and they ate a relatively consistent amount of food. In the study where participants were served, the amount of food in the serving dish varied, and participants' intake of food varied. Researchers hypothesized that portion size would be influenced by who, experimenter or participant, determined the amount of food on a plate.

Weight Loss Study & Portion Control & Children
Another recent study showed that when young children were served food, they consumed about 25 percent more food than when they helped themselves. It is not clear why the adults and children differed in their responses to portion size when they served themselves. Researchers speculate that children may be encouraged to "clean their plates" and therefore ate more, or that they may have used their own hunger as a guide of how much food to take when serving themselves. Adult participants, however, were influenced by portion size even when they served themselves.

Weight Loss Study Conclusion
Researchers note that future weight loss studies should examine whether specific factors, such as age, food type or packaging, influence a person's tendency to alter food intake with portion size. Additionally, educating people on appropriate portion sizes may be effective in the treatment and prevention of obesity.

Source: American Journal Clinical Nutrition

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