What a recent study can tell us about portion control

Serve people more food and they’ll eat more. But does the size of each food item or the number of items matter most?

In a recent study, researchers offered 186 people a plate of brownies to eat while watching a video. Each plate held 1, 2, 4, or 8 brownie squares in one of three sizes: ¼ oz., ½ oz., or 1 oz.

Overall, people tended to eat more when the plate held a smaller number of large brownies than when it held a larger number of small brownies. For example, 60 percent of the participants ate two 1 oz. brownies, but only 40 percent ate four ½ oz. brownies and a mere 18 percent ate eight ¼ oz. brownies (even though each of the three plates held 2 oz. of brownies).

What to do: Want to eat less? Stick with smaller-size items.

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Photo: Kaamilah Mitchell/CSPI.

The information in this article first appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.

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