Reducing an entrée Portion Size Does Not Affect the Amount of Dessert Consumed

Appetite. 2020 Aug 1;151:104684. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2020.104684. Epub 2020 Mar 29.


Background: Increasing portion size has been shown to increase energy intake. However, little is known about the effect of reducing portion size on subsequent consumption and the consequent energy intake.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of decreasing portion size of an entrée on the amount of dessert consumed as a following course.

Methods: A total of 81 participants were instructed to consume a lunch entrée and dessert ad libitum. The participants were given the same entrée and dessert on the same day of the week for four consecutive weeks. However, the entrée was reduced to 90%, 85%, 80%, and 75% of the amount they consumed in the first week of the study. Participants were randomized into four groups and were served the reduced entrée according to a Latin square design. Dessert was consumed ad libitum. In addition, subjects' hunger and satiety levels were assessed before the entrée, after the entrée, and after dessert.

Results: Reducing portion size had no effect on the amount of dessert consumed despite the finding that measures of hunger and satiety indicated that participants experienced increased hunger at 80% and 75% portion reductions.

Conclusions: Reduction in the portion size of an entrée by up to 25% did not increase the amount of dessert consumed, despite an increase in perceived hunger at lower portion sizes. Further investigation is needed to study how much further portion size could be reduced with a sustained decrease in energy intake without compensation, as well as to examine potential interventions for portion control that could reduce daily energy intake.

Keywords: Energy compensation; Energy intake; Portion control; Portion size; Reducing portion size.