Study: Shrink Your Plates, Portions and Packages – Eat Less

Plates, Packages and Portion Size

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Shrink your plate, silverware, and portion size and there’s a good chance you’ll eat less, potentially a lot less, suggests a recent analysis of studies. The Cochrane review of the research is the most conclusive to date that adults eat more when offered more, whether that food comes in a package or a dish.

If US adults were to consistently move from the larger-sized portions, packages and plates to the smaller versions across the entire day, we could reduce average daily calories by 22 to 29 percent – up to 527 calories – the authors estimate. In the United Kingdom, where the authors are from, adults could reduce calories by 12 to 16 percent – equivalent of up to 279 calories per day.

The review offers one potential way for healthier eating and weight control. Being a healthy weight is one of the most important ways to reduce cancer risk, along with heart disease and other chronic conditions.

Review authors analyzed 69 studies they identified that all compared two groups of people, each presented with a different size of a portion, package, plate or utensil. The studies, which spanned from 1978 to 2013, had to meet a set criteria for study design, bias and other factors. All the studies were conducted in high-income countries, with most done here in the United States.

The Findings
For both kids and adults, people exposed to larger-sized portions, packages, individual units or tableware consistently eat more compared to when they are given smaller versions. The older participants were, the more they ate when given larger sizes.Package_2About half of the studies manipulated portion size. Adults – but not children – ate more when served larger portions compared to smaller ones.Portion_3Adults – but not children – ate more when presented with larger plates, bowls and other tableware compared to smaller ones.


Many of these studies lasted only a day and all were short term, which means further research is needed to see if the short-term changes seen would last. Researchers highlight a range of ways that manufacturers, governments and individuals could reduce the sizes, such as giving upper limits on serving sizes of fatty foods, desserts, and sugary drinks, or placing larger portion sizes further away from shoppers to make them less accessible.

And more research is needed to see if reducing portions in relatively small amounts can be as effective in reducing food consumption as reductions at the larger end of the range.

(The authors had also set out to analyze alcohol and tobacco but they only found three relevant tobacco studies and none for alcohol.)



Heart Healthy Mediterranean Diet May Cut Breast Cancer Risk

canstockphoto13663884For years, we’ve heard a lot about the heart health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. Now an analysis from a randomized trial suggests this diet, supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and nuts, may help lower risk of breast cancer.

The analysis, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is from the PREDIMED trial – a 6 year study that includes data from over 4000 women, 60-80 years old and at high risk for cardiovascular disease. The women had been assigned to follow one of three diets, a Mediterranean diet where they received extra virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet with provided mixed nuts, or they were advised to follow a low fat diet. The women had quarterly sessions with a dietitian to assess how well they were following the diet.

At the end of the study, the women following the Mediterranean diet with olive oil showed a 62% lower risk of malignant breast cancer than the control, low fat diet group. When researchers put the olive oil and nuts groups together, there was a 51% relative risk reduction compared to the control group. Continue reading

Aspirin and Cancer Prevention: AICR’s Take

Three years ago, when studies appeared in the British medical journal The Lancet suggesting that low-dose aspirin intake was protective against cancer, we offered our take as a cancer prevention and education organization:Pills_Aspirin

“AICR’s focus is on the relationships of diet, nutrition, physical activity and weight to cancer. As such, we take no position on the effect of aspirin — a drug — on cancer risk, although we of course watch this research with interest.”

We went on to wonder if other health experts would one day offer official advice to take aspirin daily for lower cancer risk.

Yesterday, in a draft statement, the US Preventive Services Task Force did just that for colorectal cancer.

The statement is not final; it’s the first step in a process whereby the Task Force seeks public input before it makes a final recommendation. In addition, the Task Force’s draft recommendation with respect to cancer risk is not a sweeping one — it limits itself to colorectal cancer, and only applies to adults aged 50 to 70. Continue reading