Plate Size Linked To Childhood Obesity
April 8, 2013

Smaller Plates May Mean Less Obese Children

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Researchers from Temple University in Philadelphia wrote in the journal Pediatrics that one way to help fight childhood obesity is to shrink the size of the dinner plate.

Previous studies have found that adults using smaller bowls and spoons helped to curb the amount of food being eaten. Jennifer Orlet Fisher, an associate professor of public health at Temple´s Center for Obesity Research and Education, and colleagues decided to look and see if using smaller plates helped fight the growing problem with childhood obesity.

The team included 42 first-grade students at a private school in north Philadelphia for the study. They asked the 7-year-olds to eat a menu the team designed, which included penne or chicken nuggets, applesauce and mixed veggies.

Researchers found that when given large, adult-size dinner plates and bowls, students served themselves larger portions of food and consumed nearly 50 percent of the extra calories they had put on their plates. According to the study, 80 percent of the kids served themselves 90 calories more at lunch when using the adult-sized plates.

"This provides new evidence that children´s self-served portion sizes are influenced by size-related facets of their eating environments, which, in turn, may influence children´s energy intake," the authors wrote in the journal.

The researchers say that they know that large portions have a pretty consistent effect in making kids eat more than they would if the portion sizes were smaller.

"It really seems that offering kids smaller plates could actually be potentially helpful in keeping portion size in check and maybe appetite in check," Fisher told USA Today.

Nutrition isn't the only means for trying to fight childhood obesity, but having a good balance of exercise is vital as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. In 2010, the CDC found that more than one-third of children and adolescents were measured as overweight or obese. The National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) announced a few weeks ago that they have created a new unique Kids Nutrition Specialists training to also help curb this rapid growth. This training program provides online learning to educate kids on both nutrition and fitness.

“We designed this special online training program to help more people make a difference in kids´ lives while also growing their own fitness business,” said John Spencer Ellis, founder of NESTA. “If you´re interested in making a difference in reducing childhood obesity and diabetes, our Kids Nutrition Specialist training will give you tips and tools for providing fun and effective nutrition information and games for kids of all ages.”