Using Smaller Plates Can Actually Help You Lose Weight

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Written by: Justin Cowart

In the United States, obesity is at an all-time high; yet, you can now take additional steps to help tackle this burgeoning problem. One of these steps is actually surprisingly simple: start using smaller plates.

There have been multiple studies done over this idea, over 50 of them, all examining whether or not smaller plates can actually help in reducing consumption.

However, despite all of these studies, there has actually been surprisingly little consensus on the effects of using smaller plates. Some people have found that smaller plates can really help reduce consumption while others have not.

Published in the Journal of Association for Consumer Research, brand new research started by combining all of the prior research projects together and found that overall, smaller plates can actually help to reduce consumption, just as long as specific conditions are put into place.

First off, the researchers collated the other 56 different previous research studies and examined whether smaller plates helped reduce consumption for a wider variety of conditions such as: food types (snackfoods, breakfast cereal, fruit, rice, vegetables), plate-type (different sized plates vs. bowls), portion sizes and settings (unaware consumers in natural settings like a buffet vs. consumers who are invited to a food laboratory).

The researchers combined all of the studies and the collective data was able to show that halving the plate size actually can lead to a 30% reduction in the amount of food that is consumed on average. In the cases of plates, reducing the diameter by a total of 30% halves the area of the plate and also reduces consumption by 30%.

The research brought to light two important factors that amplify the effectiveness of small plates in reducing consumption:

  • The first factor is the fact that the smaller plates reduce consumption best if the diners are self-serving their portions. If the diners are invited to serve themselves and are then provided with smaller plates, they tend to serve themselves less food and therefore, eat less.
  • The second factor is that smaller plates really do work best if the consumers are completely unaware that their consumption is even being monitored. Modifying the plate size appears to actually have no effect on the consumption rates if people realize that they are being watched while they eat. This evidence helps to explain why so many studies that have been conducted in food laboratories have not been able to find any effects of plate-sizes on consumption.

Assistant professor of marketing at Bond University of Australia, Natalina Zlatevska, says that,

“Just changing to smaller plates at home can help reduce how much you serve yourself and how much you eat.”

The incredible findings of this research are able to show that, by simply switching to smaller plates, you can actually help curb overeating among the individuals in situations where they are able to serve themselves, such as at the buffet or at the home dinner table.

We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions about this topic in the comments below!

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Justin Cowart

Justin Cowart

Justin Cowart is a writer and researcher that loves to learn more about health, life, consciousness and making the world a better place. He loves music, traveling, meditation, video games and spending time with family and friends. He believes in baby steps and lifestyle changes in order to live a full life. In 2014, he lost around 40lbs from baby steps and emotional detoxing.
Justin Cowart
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