Size of Packaging Influences Portion Control Perception
Depending on the size of your food package, your perception of a healthy portion size will vary, according to a new study from the European Food Information Council (EUFIC) and the University of Surrey.
The study, which included 13,177 participants from six European countries, found that men were more affected by larger pack sizes and that differences existed between countries in terms of what individuals considered a portion size.
Overall, researchers found that when participants were presented with larger pack sizes, they guessed that portion sizes were larger, too.
"Our results indicate a small but significant 'pack size effect' across all countries and for different types of food and drinks," said Dr. Sophie Hieke, Head of Consumer Insights at EUFIC. "If people were to actually consume the portions they estimate in this study, there would be a substantial increase in energy intake in each of these eating occasions."
The study also found that people who thought portion information on packaging was irrelevant had a tendency to estimate bigger portion sizes, while age also played a role in portion-size guessing: older people tended to estimate smaller portion sizes.
More research is needed to determine how and why people estimate portions the way they do, the authors stated.
"Answering this question would give us insight into the conceptualisation of food portions in people's minds and the rationale behind the ratings people give in portion size experiments," said Professor Monique Raats, Director of the University of Surrey's Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre.