Why Visual Cues of Portion Size May Influence Intake

Wansink, Brian, James E. Painter, and Jill North (2005), “Bottomless Bowls: Why Visual Cues of Portion Size May Influence Intake,” Obesity Research, 13:1 (January), 93-100.

8 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2014 Last revised: 29 Apr 2017

See all articles by Brian Wansink

Brian Wansink

Retired

James Painter

Eastern Illinois University

Jill North

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Date Written: October 1, 2004

Abstract

Objective: Using self-refilling soup bowls, this study examined whether visual cues related to portion size can influence intake volume without altering either estimated intake or satiation.

Research Methods and Procedures: Fifty-four participants (BMI, 17.3 to 36.0 kg/m2; 18 to 46 years of age) were recruited to participate in a study involving soup. The experiment was a between-subject design with two visibility levels: 1) an accurate visual cue of a food portion (normal bowl) vs. 2) a biased visual cue (self-refilling bowl). The soup apparatus was housed in a modified restaurant-style table in which two of four bowls slowly and imperceptibly refilled as their contents were consumed. Outcomes included intake volume, intake estimation, consumption monitoring, and satiety.

Discussion: These findings are consistent with the notion that the amount of food on a plate or bowl increases intake because it influences consumption norms and expectations and it lessens one’s reliance on self-monitoring. It seems that people use their eyes to count calories and not their stomachs. The importance of having salient, accurate visual cues can play an important role in the prevention of unintentional overeating.

Keywords: portion size, consumption norms, food intake, consumption volume, external cues

Suggested Citation

Wansink, Brian and Painter, James and North, Jill, Why Visual Cues of Portion Size May Influence Intake (October 1, 2004). Wansink, Brian, James E. Painter, and Jill North (2005), “Bottomless Bowls: Why Visual Cues of Portion Size May Influence Intake,” Obesity Research, 13:1 (January), 93-100., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2474873

Brian Wansink (Contact Author)

Retired ( email )

607-319-0123 (Phone)

James Painter

Eastern Illinois University ( email )

Charleston, IL 61920-3099
United States
217-581-6677 (Phone)
217-581-6090 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://castle.eiu.edu/~jpainter/

Jill North

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

601 E John St
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

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