Researchers at Cambridge University looked at over 60 studies about the effect of portion size on calorie consumption. And surprise, surprise, the more food you give people the more they eat!
Giving people bigger plates encourages them to eat more. Tweaking plate sizes and portion sizes could reduce calorie consumption in the UK by 12% and by 16% in the USA.
“It may seem obvious that the larger the portion size the more people eat but until this systematic review the evidence for this effect has been fragmented” said Gareth Hollands at the university’s behavioural and health research unit.
“There has been a tendency to portray personal characteristics like being overweight or a lack of self-confidence as the main reason that people overeat. In fact the situation for most people is far more complex. Our findings highlight the important role of environmental influences on food consumption”
Short of controlling the amount of food people consume one way to cut down is to use smaller plates (plates have increased in size by 25% since 1900).
Reducing the appeal of larger portions (which may provide better value for money) is a challenge for future research.
Previous research has looked at other environmental factors.