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. 2017 Jun 27;3(3):282-288.
doi: 10.1002/osp4.119. eCollection 2017 Sep.

How Does Plate Size Affect Estimated Satiation and Intake for Individuals in Normal-Weight and Overweight Groups?

Free PMC article

How Does Plate Size Affect Estimated Satiation and Intake for Individuals in Normal-Weight and Overweight Groups?

M Peng. Obes Sci Pract. .
Free PMC article


Objective: Manipulating plate sizes could possibly introduce perceptual biases for judging food satiation and intake, which is thought to be related to the Delbeouf illusion - a visual illusion based on the perceived size of one object related to another. This study was to investigate whether an association exists between an individual's susceptibility to the plate-size-effect and their weight status (i.e. normal-weight versus overweight).

Methods: The study assessed the effect of plate size amongst normal-weight (N = 124) and overweight (N = 79) New Zealand Europeans. All participants were asked to rate estimated satiation (ES) and intake (EI) on Visual Analogue Scales for 20 food images, which comprised photographs of ten different dishes placed on large versus small plates. These responses were analysed by mixed-model ANCOVA.

Results: The results showed that the plate size had significant effects on ES (F(1, 1986) = 19.14, p < 0.001) and EI (F(1,1986) = 5.25; p = 0.048), with the small plate associated with higher ES and lower EI than the large plate. Significant differences in ES and EI were also evident across the weight groups (ES: F(1,1986) = 4.26, p = 0.039; EI: F(1,1986) = 42.22, p < 0.001), with the normal-weight group reported higher ES and lower EI than the overweight group. Furthermore, the weight group and the plate-size-effect were found to be involved in a significant interaction for EI. Post-hoc tests showed that the plate size only had a significant effect for the normal-weight group (p < 0.05), but not for the overweight group.

Conclusions: Overall, the study demonstrated that the normal-weight and overweight group differed in their susceptibilities to the plate-size-effect (reflected by EI). This study revealed some potential moderators for the plate-size-effect, such as the type of dish, and its associated appeal and familiarity, and provided useful indications about the effectiveness of small plates for food reduction.

Keywords: Eating behaviour; expected satiation; plate size; weight status.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Examples of photographs of the same dish on the large plate (A; 27‐cm diameter) and the small plate (B; 23‐cm diameter). Aside from the plates, sizes of other components are constant. Respondents were specifically instructed not to consider the can of drink in their responses.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Bar graphs of the means (with standard errors) of the ES (A) and EI (B), across all individuals and plate sizes, for the ten types of dishes used in the present study.

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