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New study: smaller plates help with weight loss efforts

A new study from Cambridge University has found using smaller plates is a way to promote fast weight loss. The 387-page report found people consume more when given bigger portions, and that reducing plate size subsequently reduces food intake by as much as 159 calories per day.

The study’s authors say that applying size reduction to all foods and beverages, such as smaller packaging in grocery stores and the like, would further help reduce daily caloric intake. Why? People usually don’t finish eating large portions or any portion until they’ve cleaned their plates, and by using smaller dishes, they serve themselves smaller portions.

“This in turn results in us unknowingly selecting and eating more food,” said Ian Shemitt, one of the study’s authors. “You tend to serve less food on plates that are smaller.” He also said that people tend to use plate size as an “anchor” of how much to consume.

“It may seem obvious that the larger the portion size, the more people eat, but until this systematic review the evidence for this effect has been fragmented, so the overall picture has, until now, been unclear,” added Dr. Gareth Hollands from Cambridge’s Behavior and Health Research Unit.

“There has also 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.

Our findings highlight the important role of environmental influences on food consumption for quick weight loss.

“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.”

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