Strategies to control portion size in the food environment
Bates, Katie Jolene
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The purpose of this research is to examine the impact of increasing portion sizes on the food environment and the implications for obesity, to synthesize and evaluate the efficacy and availability of research experiments that focus on managing portion sizes and energy intake in the food environment, and to conduct a controlled laboratory experiment to examine if the presence of a take-out container given with a meal reduces energy intake. The systematic review, conducted according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, was conducted to synthesize research experiments that focused on the food environment to influence portion size and energy intake. Across studies, the majority of food environment strategies were effective in decreasing portion size and energy intake among participants. Fifty college students completed a randomized study in a well-controlled laboratory. Independent t-tests confirmed that when a take-out container was given with the test meal, it led to a significant difference in energy intake. No significant correlation was found between BMI and energy intake. This research illustrates that providing an environmental cue such as a take-out container could decrease how much a person eats in one eating occasion. Future research should examine if the take-out container cue remains an effective strategy in a restaurant or other type of foodservice and if it has the same affect on energy intake over an extended period of time. It would also be prudent for other researchers to test other portion control strategies in the food environment in order to determine factors that may lead to decreased energy intake for consumers when eating away from the home.