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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Mar;18(3):521-7. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.243. Epub 2009 Aug 13.

Effects of doubling the portion size of fruit and vegetable side dishes on children's intake at a meal.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Increasing the portion size of energy-dense entrées has been shown to increase children's energy intake during a meal. It remains to be investigated whether serving larger portions to children can be used to promote intake of more healthful foods, such as fruits and vegetables (F&V). The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of increasing the portion size of F&V side dishes on children's intake. Forty-three children (22 boys, 21 girls), aged 5-6 years, were served dinner once a week for 2 weeks. Each dinner consisted of pasta with tomato sauce, three F&V side dishes (broccoli, carrots, and applesauce), and milk. The portion size of the F&V was doubled between experimental conditions whereas the size of the pasta remained constant. Doubling the portion size of the side dishes resulted in a 43% increase in children's intake of the fruit side dish (P = 0.001), but did not affect children's intake of the two vegetable side dishes (P > 0.60). Further, when the portion size of F&V side dishes was doubled, children ate significantly less of the pasta (P = 0.04). The difference in meal energy intake between portion size conditions (19.5 +/- 16.3 kcal) was not significant (P = 0.24). Although more studies are needed to understand whether increases in portion size can influence vegetable intake, children did eat more in response to a large quantity of a preferred low energy-dense fruit side dish at meals. Thus variations in portion size can be used strategically to help children achieve the recommended intake of fruits.

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