Eating less made easier

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Recently, we applauded the New York City Health Department s latest campaign to warn the public about increasing portion sizes. Now a new study published in the journal Health Affairs has added to the mounting evidence that offering smaller portions at restaurants may be an effective means of reducing caloric intake.

For their study, researchers from Tulane University examined the ordering choices of patrons visiting a Chinese fast food restaurant located on a college campus. In a trio of small studies, the results demonstrated that offering smaller portion sizes more effectively encouraged moderation than the practice of posting calorie counts. In fact, almost one-third of customers opted for the smaller portion sizes which contained 200 fewer calories when these portions were offered at a 25-cent discounted rate.

Hopefully, restaurants will take this study to heart and offer consumers the choice of smaller portions, says ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava. Such an option could really help people who frequently eat out yet still try to control their calorie intake.

This study supports the idea that, even with relatively small incentives, says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross, people will accept smaller portion sizes. Given that this strategy appears to be a more effective way to reduce caloric intake, we encourage more restaurants to offer these smaller plate options.