Children’s portion size choice is affected by bowl size used

Researchers from Cornell University have shown that children will choose larger portions when given larger bowls, and they will also eat 52% more food.

Researchers served 69 pre-school children cereal with milk, in either small 8 oz. bowls or large 16 oz. bowls. Adults served the cereal and milk in small increments continually asking “Is that enough or do you want more?” until the kids indicated that they were satisfied with the amount served. Results showed that when using the bigger bowl, kids requested 87% more cereal - regardless of their age, gender, and BMI. The cereal wasn’t consumed in this part of the study.

While this indicated that bowl size may have a massive effect on how much food children say they want, next researchers wanted to determine if they actually eat the large portions they ask for. The experiment was run again, this time in eighteen 6-10 year olds. As in the first study, adults served the children cereal and milk in increments until the children indicated that they had enough food. This time, however, the researchers used secret scales embedded within the tables to weigh each cereal portion before and after the kids ate to measure exactly how much they consumed.

The children using larger bowls requested 69% more cereal and milk and also ate 52% more than those using the smaller bowls. Children using the large bowls also wasted about 14% more food than those with small bowls. 78% of the kids in this study reported using the same size bowl as their parents at home.

These results are consistent with many other studies that show using bigger dishes and cutlery results in children and adults serving themselves bigger amounts. 

safefood have recently launched a childhood obesity campaign with one of the key messages being that of portion size as children’s portion sizes have gotten bigger over the last 20-30 years. It is important to remember that children need child-sized portions, help them to choose an appropriate portion size by using plates and cutlery that match their size.

Posted: 27/11/2013 15:11:45 by Laura Keaver


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