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Use Psychology to Lose Weight - Dieters Can Learn From This Study - Smaller Portions Can Translate To Smaller Meals

July 30th 2006

Use Psychology to Lose Weight - Dieters Can Learn From This Study - Smaller Portions Can Translate To Smaller Meals

Portion Size

Researchers from Pennsylvania say that a meal size has a lot to do with psychology.  The size may depend on the size of the plate or package or what is served.  This may help explain how culture has a lot to do with obesity. 

For instance, in France the food package size of yogurt is a little over half-the-size of the American counterparts.  The researchers say that the French don’t eat two packages of food; they just accept the one package as the size of a meal. 

The researchers used environmental cues to manipulate people’s ideas of how big a food unit is.  They put a bowl of M&Ms on a table of an upscale apartment building with a sign that read “Eat Your Fill. Please use the spoon to serve yourself."  They varied the size of the spoon from a quarter cup to a tablespoon.


On days when the spoon was a quarter cup, people took more.  They repeated the experiment in a snacking area with 80 small Tootsie Rolls or 20 big ones.  Over a 10 day period they found that people took more by weight when the larger Tootsie Rolls were left out.  The same outcome was seen with large and small pretzels. 

This information may help dieters.   Food companies have begun to produce 100-calorie packages. A recent study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says that super-sizing meals has an added cost in health care associated with it.

In this newer study, Andrew Geier of the University of Pennsylvania says food companies should display the serving or portion sizes more prominently on the package.  He works with overweight patients and tells them when ordering in a restaurant to ask the server to cut the meal in half and box-up one portion to take home. 


Geier says the portion size strategy has its limits.  Associated press reporter, Malcolm Ritter said “He had one dining hall at his university provide 10-ounce glasses for soda, and a second provide 16-ounce glasses. He predicted that students at the first hall would drink less soda. In fact, they drank more.”

Only later did he find out what went wrong.  Geier said "They were taking two glasses at a time. I guess I went below what is culturally construed as a unit of soda."
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Marsha Quinn

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Important:  The material on Best Syndication is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. You should promptly seek professional medical care if you have any concern about your health, and you should always consult your physician before starting a fitness program.

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                   Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:46 PM