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Plate Size Is Linked to Portion Problems, Study Says

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Eating off of a larger plate can cause you to consume more food, according to a new study from University of Cambridge researchers.

According to study leader Dr. Gareth Hollands, the findings may seem obvious - but they point to the idea that overeating isn't just a matter of self-control.

"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," Hollands said. "There has also been a tendency to portray personal characteristics like being overweight or a lack of self-control as the main reason people overeat."

Smaller meals, fewer calories, better portion control

Research from food psychology experts like Brian Wansink, from Cornell's Food Brand and Lab, has long shown that people are more likely to consume food that is in front of them, regardless of whether or not they are even hungry.

The current research, which included data on 72 studies, found that people who consistently eat smaller portions can cut about 280 calories from their diets every day. For an average person, this could translate into about a half-pound of weight loss each week.

It isn't clear whether or not reducing portion sizes for things like alcohol or tobacco would yield similar benefits in terms of less consumption, but people who opt for smaller plates and portion sizes can indeed curb overeating, the authors concluded.

"Policies and practices that successfully reduce the size, availability and appeal of larger-sized portions, packages, individual units and tableware can contribute to meaningful reductions in the quantities of food...people select and consume in the immediate and short term," the authors wrote.

The study is published in the Cochrane Library.

Source: Cochrane Library, Independent