Food portion sizes relative to the frame-size they are presented could influence an individual’s overall caloric intake, reveals a new study.
If you have never noticed before, it is fairly common to consume more units of a food item when the item is smaller in size compared to a regular portion size. Because it seems like such a minimal amount, you may feel that it is okay to indulge just a bit more, leading to an overall increased calorie intake. However, a recent study published in the Journal of the Association of Consumer Research evaluated the effects of changing one’s perception of ‘small size’ by shifting their attention away from the small size of the units and focussing on the largeness of the table that the units are placed.
Perception of food intake can be easily modified based on how the food is presented. Food perception can be changed by placing foods in different dishes, using different-sized plates, by changing the opaqueness of containers and even by maintaining different distances from the food.
Previous research has yet to take into consideration both frame size and identical sized units. In this study, researchers demonstrated changing perception of food size units by placing pizzas on different sized tables and dividing them into either eighths or sixteenths. Whole pizza pies were either placed on tables that were just slightly larger in size to the pies or on tables that were about twice the size of the pizza pies.
Researchers measured the effect frame size had over unit size, participants perceptions’ of pizza slice sizes with regards to frame size, the number of pizza slices participants selected, and their total caloric intake.
Two experiments took place. The first was a lab experiment that included 123 participants who were presented with the four options described above. Findings revealed that 52% of participants chose more of the smaller slices when the pizzas were presented on tables similar to the pie size. In this case, the slices appeared to be half the size of the larger slices. However, when the pizza pies were placed on tables that were twice their size, the number of slices selected, regardless of size, were equivalent, as slices appeared to be similar in size. Participants found less of a difference in sizes of pizza slices when presented on tables that were double the size of the whole pie. Fewer calories were consumed when participants chose the smaller slices from the larger table.
The second experiment included 219 university students who were instructed to approach one of the four tables and select as many slices as they pleased. Findings revealed that 63% of individuals chose smaller slices when places upon the small tables. However, upon approaching the larger tables, more focus was placed on the size of the table. Due to the distraction of the size of the table, students would choose the smaller slices just as often as the regular slices thinking they were equivalent in size. Therefore, overall caloric intake was similar.
Lead researcher, Brennan Davis suggested, “To eat less food, serve food in small portions and on large tables.”
Sources for Today’s Article:
Davis, B., et al., “Making small food units seem regular: how larger table size reduces calories to be consumed,” Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, 2016; 1(1), http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/journals/jacr/pr/151207.