Perceptions of tableware size in households of children and adolescents with obesity

  • Isabelle MackEmail author
  • Helene Sauer
  • Katja Weimer
  • Dirk Dammann
  • Stephan Zipfel
  • Paul Enck
  • Martin Teufel
Original Article



Portion size influences energy intake and is an important factor when developing weight management strategies. The effect of tableware on food intake is less clear, especially in children. To date, the relationship between the body weight of individuals and the tableware used in their households has not been investigated. The aim of this study was to analyze the sizes of tableware in households of children and adolescents with obesity (OBE) in comparison to participants with normal-weight matched for age and gender (NW).


60 OBE (32 female, 26 male) and 27 NW (12 female, 15 male) aged between 9 and 17 years participated in a structured interview on the tableware used at home. Responses were standardized based on the selection of different sizes of tableware and everyday objects presented to the children.


In households of NW, larger plates and bowls were used during meals and desserts compared to OBE. OBE drank out of larger bottles. Shapes and sizes of drinkware, the number of children drinking out of bottles and the cutlery used during dessert did not differ between the groups.


Drinking out of large bottles may be an unfavourable habit of OBE if they contain sugar-rich liquids. The use of smaller plates and bowls of OBE may result in multiple helpings being consumed and so contribute to an overall increased portion size.

Level of evidence

Level V, Descriptive study.


Children Obesity Portion size Cutlery Tableware Bottle 



This study was funded by Grants from the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung, Bad Homburg, Germany (2011_A135) and the “Minigraduiertenprogramm” of the Center for Nutritional Medicine (ZEM), Tübingen-Hohenheim, Germany. IM receives a grant by the Ministry of Science Baden-Württemberg and the European Social Fund.

Author contributions

IM was responsible for conception, funding, design and preparation of the study, data analysis, data interpretation and drafted the paper. HS was responsible for conception and design of the study and acquired data. DD and SZ were responsible for conception and design of the study. PE was responsible for conception, design and funding of the study. KW and MT were involved in data interpretation. All co-authors revised the manuscript. We thank all staff of the Fachkliniken Wangen i. A. for their support in carrying out the study and all colleagues at the University Hospital Tübingen who helped us with planning, implementation and realization. We thank Mr. Riyad Peeraully for reviewing the manuscript as a native English speaker.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Mack et al, the children and their parents provided informed consent prior to the children’s participation.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabelle Mack
    • 1
    Email author
  • Helene Sauer
    • 1
  • Katja Weimer
    • 1
  • Dirk Dammann
    • 2
  • Stephan Zipfel
    • 1
  • Paul Enck
    • 1
  • Martin Teufel
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Medical HospitalUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  2. 2.Fachkliniken Wangen i.A.Children Rehabilitation Hospital for Respiratory Diseases, Allergies and PsychosomaticsWangen i.A.Germany
  3. 3.LVR-Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and PsychotherapyUniversity of Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany

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