Large portion sizes increase bite size and eating rate in overweight women

Physiol Behav. 2015 Feb;139:297-302. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.11.041. Epub 2014 Nov 18.


Objective: Larger food portions lead to increased intake but the mechanism behind this effect is unclear. We investigated the effect of portion size on bite size, eating rate, deceleration rate, and meal duration.

Design and methods: Thirty-seven overweight women attended 5 visits after a 3 h fast and consumed a 229, 303, 400, 529 or 700 g portion of a lunch meal in random order. Meal eating parameters were measured with the Sussex Ingestion Pattern Monitor. Data were analyzed with mixed effects models.

Results: Average bite size increased by 0.22 g for every 100 g increase in portion size (p=0.001); portion size had a non-linear effect on eating rate, increasing with portion sizes up to about 540 g (p=0.01). Deceleration rate (reduction in speed of eating) decreased by 20% (p<0.001) and meal duration increased by 22.5% for every 100 g increase in portion size (p<0.001), relative to the smallest portion.

Conclusions: Increasing portion size led to a larger bite size and faster eating rate, but a slower reduction in eating speed during the meal. These changes may underlie greater energy intakes with exposure to large portions. Interventions to reduce bite size and slow eating rate may provide individuals with strategies to reduce the risk of overconsumption.

Keywords: Bite size; Eating rate; Meal microstructure; Portion size.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Overweight* / psychology
  • Portion Size* / psychology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult