Whether Smaller Plates Reduce Consumption Depends on Who's Serving and Who's Looking: A Meta-Analysis

33 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2015 Last revised: 24 Dec 2015

Stephen S. Holden

Macquarie Graduate School of Management

Natalina Zlatevska

Bond University

Chris Dubelaar

Deakin Business School

Date Written: December 21, 2015

Abstract

The literature on whether varying plate size has an effect on consumption is mixed and contradictory. This meta-analysis of 56 studies from 20 papers shows that varying the size of the container holding food (e.g., plate or bowl) has a substantial effect on amount self-served and/or consumed (Cohen’s d=.43). More generally, we found a doubling of plate size increased the amount self-served or amount consumed by 41%. Our analysis resolves the various contradictions of past reviews: we found that the plate size-effect had a substantial effect on amount served (d=.51), and on amount consumed when the portion was self-served (d=.70) or manipulated along with (confounded with) plate size (d=.48). However, plate size had no effect on amount consumed when the portion size was held constant (d=.03). Overall, plate size had a stronger effect when participants were unaware that they were participating in a food study (d=.76).

Keywords: plate size, portion size, food consumption

Suggested Citation

Holden, Stephen S. and Zlatevska, Natalina and Dubelaar, Chris, Whether Smaller Plates Reduce Consumption Depends on Who's Serving and Who's Looking: A Meta-Analysis (December 21, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2706338

Stephen S. Holden (Contact Author)

Macquarie Graduate School of Management ( email )

Natalina Zlatevska

Bond University ( email )

Gold Coast, QLD 4229
Australia

Chris Dubelaar

Deakin Business School ( email )

Australia

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