Reducing portion sizes could be a potential method for limiting energy intake among overweight or obese patients, according to data presented at the European Congress on Obesity annual meeting.
“You’re probably aware that there have been a lot of studies that show if you increase portion size, people tend to eat more. This is fueled by the sense that large portions are one of the factors in our environment that has driven obesity. What people tend to do is then jump to the conclusion that, therefore, small portions are the answer to obesity. Truth be told, there’s almost no data to support that,” Susan A. Jebb, PhD, head of diet and population health at the Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research unit in Cambridge, United Kingdom, said during a press conference.
Therefore, Jebb and colleagues conducted a small, randomized crossover study that examined the effects of covert reductions in portion sizes at breakfast on day-long energy intake in overweight and obese patients (n=33; mean BMI 29 kg/m2, mean age 43 years).
They reduced breakfast portion size by 20% and 40% from a standard portion size based on 25% of the patients’ daily energy needs, according to Jebb. The researchers measured energy intake by observation and food diaries.
Data indicated that energy intake at lunch and throughout the duration of the day did not change, resulting in a reduced day-long energy intake after a smaller breakfast meal.
“This tells us that covert reductions of calories consumed at a meal do seem to be associated with day-long reductions in energy intake, suggesting that this may indeed be a promising strategy for weight control,” Jebb said. “Don’t underestimate the importance of even those small differences, particularly when repeated day-in and day-out, because it’s a relatively small energy imbalance which is leading to the continuing increased prevalence of body weight.”
Larger studies are needed to confirm these findings, she added.
For more information:
Lewis HB. Abstract #HTP.048. Presented at: the European Congress on Obesity; May 12-15, 2013; Liverpool, United Kingdom.
Disclosure: This study was funded by the Medical Research Council (U105960389). The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.