Right sizing prevention. Food portion size effects on children's eating and weight

Leann L. Birch, Jennifer S. Savage, Jennifer Orlet Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Experimental findings provide consistent evidence that increasing the portion size of palatable, energy dense entrees relative to an age appropriate reference portion increases children's energy intake of the entree and the meal. Most of these studies have been conducted on preschool aged children between 2 and 6 years of age, in childcare or laboratory settings, using repeated measures designs. In these studies, children's intake is compared across a series of meals, where the size of the entrée portion is varied and other aspects of the meal, including the portion size of other items on the menu, are held constant. This paper provides an overview of what we know from this research, what is not known about the effects of portion size on children's intake and weight status, and points to some of the important unanswered questions and gaps in the literature. Lastly, we discuss how individual characteristics may make someone more or less susceptible to large portions of foods and how the palatability of foods may moderate observed associations among portion size, children's intake, and weight status. Future studies that address the gaps identified in this paper are needed to inform policy and to develop effective and efficient interventions to prevent childhood obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-16
Number of pages6
StatePublished - May 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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