The Influence of Portion Size on Eating and Drinking
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There is growing interest in the role of large portions in overeating. Experimental studies consistently demonstrate that serving large amounts of food leads individuals to consume more food and energy than they require. This portion size effect has been observed across different types of foods and beverages and can be sustained over several months. Furthermore, there is evidence that prolonged provision of large portions can lead to weight gain. The robust nature of this effect has led to efforts to identify strategies to manage food and beverage portions. Certain characteristics of the consumer (e.g., satiety responsiveness, slowness of eating) and the available food (e.g., relative palatability, value) have been found to influence the effect of portion size, and these are potential targets for interventions to attenuate the response. To date, the most reliable and effective method to moderate energy intake from large portions is reducing the energy density of the diet. Future studies need to build on current knowledge to understand individual and contextual variability in the response to portion size. A more comprehensive understanding of the portion size effect can lead to the development of a systems approach in which the food, individual, and environment are targeted simultaneously to counter the effects of large portions.
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health [grant numbers R01-DK059853 and R01-DK082580] and the USDA [National Institute of Food and Agriculture Grant 2011-67001-30117 Program A2121-Childhood Obesity Prevention: Transdisciplinary Graduate Education and Training in Nutrition and Family Sciences].
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