Does a small entrée lead to a big dessert?

Researchers asked 74 people to eat as much of an entrée (macaroni and cheese) and a dessert (ice cream) as they wanted.

On four subsequent occasions, the scientists shrunk each participant’s entrée to 90 percent, 85 percent, 80 percent, or 75 percent of the amount that he or she had eaten on the first day.

People averaged 360 calories’ worth of the entrée on the first day and only 250 calories on the 75-percent day. Nevertheless, on all five days they ate roughly the same amount—about 95 calories’ worth—of dessert.

What to do: Keep in mind that you may not compensate for small—or large—serving sizes. While a smaller entrée may not lead to a maxi-dessert, other studies suggest that a larger entrée may not lead to a mini-dessert.

Photo: Yakobchuk Olena/

The information in this post first appeared in the June 2020 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.

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