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.)



For Kids, Short Walking Breaks May Improve Health

If you’re a reader of health news, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about the research looking at how office walking breaks can help your health. Now comes a small study suggesting that those breaks may also improve kids’ long-term metabolic health, which may lower their risk for adult cancers decades later.37324435_s

The study found that children who break up their sitting with three minutes of walking every half hour had lower levels of blood glucose and insulin, compared to when they remained seated for three hours. It was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. High blood glucose and insulin are risk factors for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that also links to increased cancer risk among adults.

According to government data, more than one third of children and teens are overweight or obese. Kids who are overweight are more likely to be overweight adults, and excess body fat among adults is a cause of ten cancers.

The study included 28 healthy, normal-weight children who were assigned to one of two groups. Children in the first group remained sitting for three hours where they watched Continue reading

Drinking Water Before Meals May Help You Lose Weight

Does the old weight loss advice to drink water before a meal really help? A new study says it just might. Finding simple, low-cost and effective strategies for weight loss could mean lower cancer risk for thousands of Americans every year because too much body fat is a cause of ten cancers, including colorectal and post-menopausal breast.

The 12 week study, published in Obesity, randomized 84 obese adults into two groups: one group was told to drink 2 cups of water 30 minutes before meals and the other to imagine their stomachs were full 30 minutes before their meals. All participants were given a half hour session on weight management strategies and all received a follow-up phone call later to gauge how closely they were following their plan – either water drinking or stomach imagining. The researchers also sent them text messages reminders and participants completed questionnaires about compliance throughout the study.

Both groups lost weight, but the water drinking group lost, on average, about 3 pounds more than those who imagined full stomachs. About one-third of the water drinkers did so 3 times per day. Even more impressive is that they lost an average of 8 pounds more than those who reported drinking water 0-1 times per day before meals. Continue reading