Portion size is increasing and adding calories; lessons for obesity

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Goodfellow Gems

"Portion size is increasing and adding calories; lessons for obesity"

The size of portions, packages, and tableware has increased over the past 50 years. For example a steak and kidney pie in 1993 weighed 160 gms (425 kcal) and in 2015 was 240gm (640 kcal).1 A recent Cochrane review 2 shows that people consistently consume more food or non-alcoholic drinks when offered larger sized portions or packages, or when using larger items of tableware. The size of this effect suggests that eliminating larger portions from the diet could reduce average daily energy consumed by 12-16% among UK adults and by 22-29% among US adults. These estimates are in line with those generated in another review on portion size using different methods. Additionally, the portion size effect seems to operate without awareness for the person eating the food. This has implications for public health measures as well as for individual patients in primary care. 


  1. http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h5863
  2. http://www.cochrane.org/CD011045/PUBHLTH_portion-package-or-tableware-size-changing-selection-and-consumption-food-alcohol-and-tobacco

Gems are chosen by the Goodfellow director Dr. Bruce Arroll to be either practice changing or practice maintaining. The information is educational and not clinical advice.