Smaller plates could reduce childhood obesity rates

As portion sizes have increased exponentially over the last several decades, the amount we're feeding our children has also ballooned.

But according to research published in the journal Pediatrics, first-graders helped themselves to more food — and ate more — when they used a large plate over a small one.

The study

While previous research has shown that adults tend to eat less when their plates are smaller, a team of researchers at Temple's Center for Obesity Research and Education wanted to see if the same thing would hold true for kids.

Over the course of eight days, 42 students were given access to a food buffet of penne, chicken nuggets, applesauce and mixed veggies. On half the days, the children were given plates 7 1/4 inches in diameter, which is about the size of a salad plate. On the other days, they were given plates 10 1/4 inches in diameter — the size of a normal dinner plate.

Results

On the days when they used the bigger plates, the children served themselves 90 calories more, consuming about half of those calories and leaving the rest untouched. The excess amount of calories consumed was still more than what they ate on the small plate days.

And while the researchers don't think that smaller plates will automatically encourage less eating, they do note that changing eating habits in children is much easier than with adults.

TIME magazine reports: “Studies show that when kids serve themselves more, they are going to eat more,” said Jennifer Orlet Fisher, an associate professor of public health at Temple’s Center for Obesity Research and Education and lead study author.

Source: TIME

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