The Effect of Downsizing Packages of Energy-Dense, Nutrient-Poor Snacks and Drinks on Consumption, Intentions, and Perceptions-A Scoping Review

Nutrients. 2021 Dec 21;14(1):9. doi: 10.3390/nu14010009.


The single-serve packaging of discretionary foods is becoming increasingly popular, but evidence is limited on whether smaller package sizes can reduce food intake. The aim of this scoping review is to assess the effect of reducing the package size of energy-dense, nutrient-poor (EDNP) snacks and drinks on consumption, intentions, and perception, and to examine the effects of potential moderators or mediators. The search was conducted in six selected databases and grey literature sources, following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses for the scoping review process (PRISMA-ScR) guidelines. After screening 5562 articles, 30 articles comprising 47 intervention studies were included. Twelve of 15 studies found a significant effect in lowering the actual or intended consumption when a single smaller package was offered compared with a single larger package. When the total serving size was held constant between varying package conditions, such as a multipack, single package, or unpackaged, the results on the actual and intended consumption were inconsistent and varied according to the presence of moderators. Overall, these findings suggest that an overall reduction in the size of a single package is a more promising strategy than providing multipacks to reduce consumption. Changes to the current food environment to promote single smaller packages of EDNP snacks and drinks are necessary to support the better selection of appropriate portion sizes and reduce consumption.

Keywords: downsizing; eating behaviour; energy-dense nutrient-poor foods; package size effect; portion size; snacks.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Beverages
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Energy Intake
  • Food Packaging*
  • Food Preferences*
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Nutritive Value
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Perception
  • Portion Size*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Serving Size*
  • Snacks