Bigger portions, larger plates prompt more eating

 
By Doug Bennett • Published: December 2nd, 2015
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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If you want to cut back on eating, look for smaller plates and utensils. Seeking smaller portions of food will also help.

Those are the findings of a recent study published by researchers at the University of Cambridge. Their analysis included 72 randomized, controlled trials in high-income countries. The study found that adults often ate more when they were presented with larger portions or bigger tableware. The effect was equally evident in both men and women, and among those who were overweight or trying to diet.

The studies were done on single days, but researchers reached a dramatic conclusion: Reducing food portions and the size of tableware on a regular basis would reduce daily food intake between 8.5 percent and 13.5 percent in Britain. In the United States, using smaller plates, utensils and portions could reduce food intake even more.

So what does this say about your eating habits? First, it is important to be aware of how the size of plates and food portions can influence how much you eat. Experts say restaurants should also be encouraged to serve smaller portions.

As for what’s driving the overeating effect, the researchers have a few ideas. What’s considered a normal portion of food may have increased substantially over the years. Larger plates may make people choose more food to fill them. It also could be that the size of the plate makes a portion of food appear smaller than it actually is. Yet another explanation may be that diners view a heaping plate of food as something that can or should be consumed, regardless of its size. After all, who hasn’t been told to “clean your plate” at one point or another?

So before you sit down to eat, take a closer look at the size of your meal and the size of your plate. There might be more there than meets the eye.