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Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Dec;86(6):1709-16.

Portion size effects on daily energy intake in low-income Hispanic and African American children and their mothers.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, US Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service Children's Nutrition Research Center, Houston, TX, USA.



Portion size influences children's energy intakes at meals, but effects on daily intake are unknown.


Effects of large portions on daily energy intake were tested in 5-y-old Hispanic and African American children from low-income families. Maternal food intake data were collected to evaluate familial susceptibility to portion size.


A within-subjects experimental design with reference and large portion sizes was used in a study of 59 low-income Hispanic and African American preschool-aged children and their mothers. The portion size of 3 entrées (lunch, dinner, and breakfast) and an afternoon snack served during a 24-h period were of a reference size in one condition and doubled in the other condition. Portion sizes of other foods and beverages did not vary across conditions. Weighed food intake, anthropometric measures, and self-reported data were obtained.


Doubling the portion size of several entrées and a snack served during a 24-h period increased energy intake from those foods by 23% (180 kcal) among children (P < 0.0001) and by 21% (270 kcal) among mothers (P < 0.0001). Child and maternal energy intakes from other foods for which portion size was not altered did not differ across conditions. Consequently, total energy intakes in the large-portion condition were 12% (P < 0.001) and 6% (P < 0.01) higher in children and mothers, respectively, than in the reference condition. Child and maternal intakes of the portion-manipulated foods were not correlated.


Large portions may contribute to obesigenic dietary environments by promoting excess daily intakes among Hispanic and African American children.

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