Background: Consumption of large portions of energy-dense foods promotes weight gain in children. Breakfast cereal boxes often show portions much larger than the recommended serving size. Objective: This experimental study investigated whether front-of-package portion size depictions influence children's self-served portions and consumption. Methods: In a between-subjects design, 41 children aged 7-11 years (M= 9.0 ± 1.5y) served themselves breakfast cereal from a box, the front of which depicted either a recommended serving size of cereal (30g) or a larger, more typical front-of-pack portion (90g). Cereal served and consumed and total caloric intake (including milk) was recorded. Height and weight, demographic information and measures of children's food responsiveness and enjoyment of food were collected. Results: MANOVA revealed that children exposed to the larger portion size served themselves (+7g, 37%) and consumed (+6g, 63%) significantly more cereal than those exposed to the smaller portion. Despite this, overall caloric intake (milk included) did not differ between conditions, and no other measured variables (hunger, BMI) significantly affected the outcomes. Conclusion: This study provides novel evidence of the influence portion-size depictions on food packaging have on children's eating behaviour. This offers possible avenues for intervention and policy change; however, more research is needed.
- childhood obesity
- portion size