Size Really Does Matter


A new study shows that a way to combat childhood obesity is to shrink the size of the dinner plate. According to a new study posted in the journal Pediatrics, first graders served themselves more and consumed more calories when they used large plates instead of smaller ones.

Advising parents and kids to eat healthy and exercise has proven inefficient against the childhood obesity epidemic. It’s easy to see why: high calorie foods are everywhere. Portion sizes have grown exponentially in the last few decades and plate sizes have grown accordingly.

The researchers wanted to see if kids pile food onto their plates the same way adults do. A test was conducted in Philadelphia with a group of 42 first grade students. The students were given a self-serve buffet with a choice of penne or chicken nuggets, applesauce and mixed veggies. For the first half of the study the kids were given salad plates. The salad plates measured 7 and 1/4th inches in diameter. The other days they were given dinner plates measuring 10 and 1/4th inches in diameter.

On the days with the bigger plates the kids on average served themselves 90 calories more and consumed about half those calories leaving the rest uneaten. This was still more than what they ate on the days with the salad plates.

Changing the size of plates is not the only thing people can do. Changing eating habits and exercising are vital to curbing the childhood obesity problem. Unlike adults, children only eat when they are hungry. Adults are more influenced by other factors like the cost of food and the emotions that prompt mindless eating.


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