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Br J Nutr. 2012 Feb;107(4):588-94. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511003278. Epub 2011 Jul 5.

How much should I eat? Situational norms affect young women's food intake during meal time.

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  • 1Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Portion size and the intake of others have been found to influence people's food intake. No study, however, has tested the potential influences of both types of situational norms on intake during the same eating occasion. We experimentally tested the effects of manipulating portion size and the intake of others on young women's meal intake during a 20 min eating opportunity. An experimental design with a three (confederate's intake: small, standard, large) by two (portion size: small, standard) between-participants design was used. A total of eighty-five young women participated. Portion size and the confederate's intake both influenced young women's intake. Participants consumed more when offered a larger portion than when offered a smaller portion, and they also ate more when their eating companion ate more. The present results indicate that the effects of portion size and the intake of others were independent but additive. Thus, both types of situational norms might independently guide an individual's intake during a single eating occasion.

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