Can't curb overeating? Blame it on the large-sized tableware

  • PTI, London
  • Updated: Sep 21, 2015 13:30 IST

Now this is one reason for putting on weight you never thought of. If you want to watch your weight, avoid using large-sized tableware! People consume more food or non-alcoholic drinks when offered jumbo portions or when they use larger items of tableware, suggests a new study.

The research carried out by the University of Cambridge suggests that eliminating larger-sized portions from the diet completely could reduce energy intake significantly. Overeating increases the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and many cancers, which are among the leading causes of ill health and premature death.

However, the extent to which this overconsumption might be attributed to 'overserving' of larger-sized portions of food and drink has not been known. As part of their systematic review of the evidence, researchers combined results from 61 high quality studies, capturing data from 6,711 participants, to find the influence
of portion, package and tableware size on food consumption.

The data showed that people consistently consume more food and drink when offered larger-sized portions, packages or tableware than when offered smaller-sized versions. This suggests that if sustained reductions in exposure to large sizes could be achieved across the whole diet it could reduce average daily energy consumed from food by up to 527 kilo calories per day.

The researchers did not find that the size of this effect varied substantively between men and women, or by people's body mass index, susceptibility to hunger, or tendency to consciously control their eating behaviour. "Helping people to avoid 'overserving' themselves or others with larger portions of food or drink by reducing their size, availability and appeal in shops, restaurants and in the home, is likely to be a good way of helping lots of people to reduce their risk of overeating," said Gareth Hollands from the University of Cambridge, who co-led the review.

However, the researchers pointed out that large reductions are likely to be needed to achieve the changes in food consumption suggested by their results. Also, the review does not establish whether reducing portions at the smaller end of the size range can be as effective in reducing food consumption as reductions at the
larger end of the range, researchers said.

There is also a current lack of evidence to establish whether meaningful short-term changes in the quantities of food people consume are likely to translate into sustained or meaningful reductions in consumption over the longer-term, they said.

The study was published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

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