Shrinking plate size could shrink problem overeating

WASHINGTON — The solution seems simple — using smaller plates, forks, and glasses could reduce overeating and obesity.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge suggest eliminating larger-sized portions from the diet completely could help Americans reduce average calorie intake by 29 percent.

The study found people consistently consume more food and drink when offered larger-sized portions, packages or tableware than when offered smaller-sized versions.

The findings apply to both men and women.

“There has … been a tendency to portray personal characteristics like being overweight or a lack of self-control as the main reason people overeat. In fact, the situation is far more complex,” says research co-leader Dr. Gareth Hollands.

“Our findings highlight the important role of environmental influences on food consumption,” says Hollands.

“Helping people to avoid ‘overserving’ themselves or others with larger portions of food or drink by reducing their size, availability and appeal in shops, restaurants and in the home, is likely to be a good way of helping lots of people to reduce their risk of overeating.”

“At the moment, it is all too easy — and often better value for money — for us to eat or drink too much,” said Ian Shemilt, one of the leaders of the review.

Overeating increases the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and many cancers, which are among the leading causes of ill health and premature death.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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