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Eating from a small plate no real help for weight loss

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Study finds plate size won't help curb calories or food portions for weight loss

Eating from a small plate has been suggested to aid weight loss. But a new study finds plate size has no effect on curbing calories or controlling food portions.

Researchers in Texas teamed up to find out if you really can trick yourself into eating less simply by choosing a smaller plate. The result was, it just didn't work.

Meena Shah, senior researcher, Rebecca Schroeder, lead researcher, and Walker Winn from Texas Christian University, and Beverley Adams-Huet from UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas studied 10 normal weight women and 10 overweight or obese women eating lunch on two different days. The participants were randomly asked to use either a small or large plate; then asked to alternate.

The women served up spaghetti from a bowl onto whichever size plate they were assigned. They were asked to jeat until they felt satisfied; in a setting that was free from distraction.

Regardless of the women's weight status, the size of the plate had no effect on how much the women thought they might eat, hunger, palatability, food satiety or fullness.

Meena Shah says smaller plates won’t help with weight loss because people simply eat until they're full.

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Compared to normal weight women in the study, those who were overweight or obese said they weren’t as hungry before eating and they also said they felt less full after the meal.

Shah explains, “This suggests that overweight/obese individuals may have a lower ability to sense hunger and fullness than normal weight adults.”

The study, published n the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, suggests downsizing to a smaller plate doesn’t seem to be an effective weight loss strategy. The researchers didn't address whether using a bigger fork really helps people eat less, which was found in a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research,


Shah, M., Schroeder, R., Winn, W. and Adams-Huet, B. (2011)
"A pilot study to investigate the effect of plate size on meal energy intake in normal weight and overweight/obese women."
Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 24: 612–615. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-277X.2011.01210.x

Journal of Consumer Research
"The Influence of Bite Size on Quantity of Food Consumed: A Field Study"
Arul Mishr et al.
Vol. 38, No. 5, February 2012

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