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A pilot study to investigate the effect of plate size on meal energy intake in normal weight and overweight/obese women


M. Shah, Department of Kinesiology, Texas Christian University, TCU Box 297730, Fort Worth, TX 76129, USA.
Tel.: +817 257 6871
Fax: +817 257 7702


Background:  Smaller plates are often recommended as a strategy for controlling energy intake; however, the effect of plate size on meal energy intake in normal weight compared to overweight or obese individuals is not known. The present study aimed to investigate this further.

Methods:  Ten normal weight [mean (SD) body mass index, 21.7 (2.0) kg m−2] and 10 overweight or obese [31.7 (3.6) kg m−2] women attended a metabolic laboratory on two separate days for lunch. In this cross-over study, subjects were randomly assigned to eat lunch using either a small (21.6 cm) or a large (27.4 cm) plate. Each subject self-served spaghetti mixed with tomato sauce from an individual serving bowl onto the assigned plate, and ate until satisfied. The meal was consumed alone at a private table. During the second study day, each subject underwent the same procedure but used the alternate size plate. The amount eaten and energy consumed were calculated and a mixed effects analysis of variance model was used to compare energy intakes.

Results:  Energy intakes using the small and large plate were 1356 (515) and 1365 (393) kJ, respectively, in normal weight subjects and 1314 (632) and 1226 (431) kJ, respectively, in overweight/obese subjects. Neither plate size, nor plate size by weight status significantly affected meal energy intake. There was no plate size by weight status effect on ratings of palatability, hunger, satiety, fullness or prospective consumption.

Conclusions:  Plate size did not affect energy intake from a single meal in either the normal weight or overweight/obese subjects.