Portion size of common foods predicts energy intake among preschool-aged children

Kristen L. McConahy, Helen Smiciklas-Wright, Diane C. Mitchell, Mary Frances Picciano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


This study evaluated the relationship of food intake behaviors to total energy intake among children aged 2 to 5 years old (N=5,447) who participated in the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals, 1994-1996, 1998 (CSFII 94-96, 98). Food intake behaviors examined were portion size for 10 commonly eaten foods, number of eating occasions per day, and number of foods consumed per day. Using regression models, we examined these eating behaviors as predictors of energy intakes with adjustment for body weight. Eating behaviors and body weight were positively related to energy intake, together explaining 38% to 39% of the variability. Portion size alone accounted for 17% to 19% of the variance in energy intake, whereas body weight predicted only 4%. Feeding recommendations should highlight the importance of age-appropriate portion sizes and provide guidance on the frequency of eating and number of foods consumed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)975-979
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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