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Smaller Servings, Please

You may think this is a no-brainer, but researchers in England have found evidence that if we can eat smaller portions, we can cut calories substantially. Investigators from the University of Cambridge concluded that eliminating the larger-size portions served in many restaurants or eaten at home could result in reducing average daily calorie consumption by 16 percent (279 calories) among adults in the UK, and by 29 percent (527 calories) among adults in the U.S. They reviewed 61 studies that included data on 6,711 participants and found that the effect of trimming portion sizes didn’t vary substantively between men or women or by people’s body mass. These factors also didn’t affect susceptibility to hunger or tendency to consciously control eating behavior. The investigators noted that the incentive to purchase (and then eat or drink) large size portions is simply that these amounts are often perceived to be a better value for the money. Still to be determined is how to actually reduce the size, availability and appeal of large servings. Also at issue: whether short-term reductions in the amount people eat can translate into long-term beneficial changes in consumption.