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Downsizing Recommended for Successful Weight Loss

Tim Boyer's picture
People eat more because they are offered more

According to a new study by researchers at Cambridge University, size does matter when it comes to weight loss. Here are some downsizing recommendations that they believe will lead to successful weight loss.


Last September, researchers published a new report in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews that looked at 72 separate studies about obesity and weight loss and determined that there’s more to obesity than just a lack of self-control. In fact, it turns out that consumers today are presented with significantly larger sized food portions and larger items of tableware than they were just 20 years ago when obesity first began to be recognized as a growing health problem. The problem is that people naturally consume more food or non-alcoholic drinks when offered larger sized portions or when they use larger items of tableware.

This month, researchers have come up with what they believe can be a solution to the obesity problem—implement portion control measures in stores and restaurants to remove the temptation to consume more than needed by making smaller portions easily accessible and lager portions more difficult to obtain. In other words, eating behavior will follow food availability leading to approximately 20 percent less caloric intake per day. So rather than consuming 2,000 calories per day, a person will in theory consume something more like 1,600 calories per day.

Portion Control Measures

So what are the measures recommended for restaurants and food stores to follow? Here is a sampling of small changes that could reap big weight loss rewards:

1. Smaller Default Sizing: Food provided in containers such as cartons for French fries and paper cups for muffins are made smaller. Also, plate size and beverage cup sizes be decreased as well to still provide that full-plate look, but with less food and calories.

2. Add New Smaller Sizes: Change those small, medium and large beverage cups to even smaller portion sizes and remove all of those super-size drinks.

3. Place Larger Portions Less Prominently:
No large meal deals at easily accessible areas where consumers tend to impulse buy such as the ends of aisles and near the checkout counter. Rather, place larger sized meals in more difficult to reach areas to discourage large food choices over smaller food portioned meals.

4. Demarcate Single Portion Sizes in Packaging Design: in other words, sell cookies, crackers, chips, etc. in small individually wrapped portions to prevent mindless snacking till the bag is empty.

5. Restrict Non-absolute Pricing: No more of that ol’ just 10-25 cents more buys you an upgrade from a medium to a large drink.

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6. Restrict Price Promotions on Large Portions: Like with drinks, no marketing ploys allowed that makes a consumer buy a larger-sized meal just because you get more for your money with it.

While the recommendations appear sound, the researchers do state that this is not a guaranteed solution, but one that will require testing to see if caloric intake behavior will truly follow food availability in a positive manner. Furthermore, it is very likely that both restaurants and food stores will be reluctant to change the way they do business.

However, this does not mean that individuals cannot institute portion control measures on their own and see if it does make a difference toward their weight loss success. The following links are articles about useful tips and recommendations on how to make portion control work for you.

University of Cambridge Study Underscores Weight Loss Tips

The secret to eating less

Get French-Slim with These Tips for Weight Loss

Deepak Chopra’s Weight Loss Advice Balances with New Study’s Findings


University of Cambridge “How food and drink portions could be reduced to improve health

Downsizing: policy options to reduce portion sizes to help tackle obesityBritish Medical Journal 2015; 351 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h5863 (Published 02 December 2015)