Large Portions, Packages and Tableware Lead to Higher Consumption of Food and Drink

Large Portions, Packages and Tableware Lead to Higher Consumption of Food and Drink A new review has produced the most conclusive evidence to date that people consume more food or non-alcoholic drinks when offered larger sized portions or when they use larger items of tableware. The research, carried out by the University of Cambridge and published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, suggests that eliminating larger-sized portions from the diet completely could reduce energy intake by up to 29% among US adults. Overeating increases the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and many cancers, which are among the leading causes of ill health and premature death. Researchers combined results from 61 high quality studies, capturing data from 6,711 participants, to investigate the influence of portion, package and tableware size on food consumption. The data showed that people consistently consume more food and drink when offered larger-sized portions, packages or tableware than when offered smaller-sized versions. The researchers did not find variation between men and women, or by people‰Ûªs body mass index, susceptibility to hunger, or tendency to consciously control their eating behavior. Dr Gareth Hollands from the Behaviour and Health Research Unit, noted: “Our findings highlight the important role of environmental influences on food consumption. Helping people to avoid ‰Û÷overserving‰Ûª themselves or others with larger portions of food or drink by reducing their size, availability and appeal in shops, restaurants and in the home, is likely to be a good way of helping lots of people to reduce their risk of overeating.‰Û The researchers highlight a range of potential actions that could be taken, including: upper-limits on serving sizes of energy-dense foods and drinks (for example, fatty foods, desserts and sugary drinks), or on the sizes of crockery, cutlery and glasses provided for use in their consumption; placing larger portion sizes further away from purchasers to make them less accessible; and demarcating single portion sizes in packaging through wrapping or a visual cue. Other potential actions include: restricting pricing practices whereby larger portion and package sizes cost less in relative (and sometimes absolute) monetary terms than smaller sizes and thus offer greater value for money to consumers; and restricting price promotions on larger portion and package sizes. ‰ÛÏAt the moment, it is all too easy ‰ÛÒ and often better value for money ‰ÛÒ for us to eat or drink too much,‰Û said Ian Shemilt, who co-led the review.