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Draw Your Dinner: A Longitudinal Study of Perceptions of Meal Size with Different Plate Sizes

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Objectives: In this study, we examined the role of plate size in an individual's ability to draw what they had for dinner the previous evening. Methods: A sample of 199 students at one US university were given large pieces of paper with the image of a plate printed on them and asked to make an accurate drawing on the plate of what they had for dinner the previous evening once per week for 10 weeks. The sizes of the printed plates either stayed constant at 10.5 inches or 8.5 inches or started at 10.5 inches and decreased in small weekly increments to 8.5 inches. We hypothesized that participants given the changing size plates would unknowingly alter their drawn meal sizes in relation to the size of the plate offered. Results: Participants drew more food on larger plates than smaller plates. Participants given plates that decreased in size also decreased the size of their drawings and reported consuming a total of 69 square inches less food on the decreasing than the large plates. Conclusion: These findings suggest that changes in plate size may be useful in influencing food portion sizes over time when the size of the plates is decreased incrementally.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2019

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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