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Br J Nutr. 2016 May 28;115(10):1810-8. doi: 10.1017/S0007114516000799. Epub 2016 Mar 17.

High variation in manufacturer-declared serving size of packaged discretionary foods in Australia.

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1Sydney Medical School,The George Institute for Global Health,University of Sydney,Sydney,NSW 2050,Australia.
3Faculty of Health Sciences,University of Sydney,Sydney, NSW 2006,Australia.
5School of Molecular Bioscience,Charles Perkins Centre,University of Sydney,Sydney, NSW 2006,Australia.
6National Heart Foundation of Australia,Melbourne,VIC 3000,Australia.
7Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders,University of Sydney,Sydney, NSW 2006,Australia.


Despite the potential of declared serving size to encourage appropriate portion size consumption, most countries including Australia have not developed clear reference guidelines for serving size. The present study evaluated variability in manufacturer-declared serving size of discretionary food and beverage products in Australia, and how declared serving size compared with the 2013 Australian Dietary Guideline (ADG) standard serve (600 kJ). Serving sizes were obtained from the Nutrition Information Panel for 4466 packaged, discretionary products in 2013 at four large supermarkets in Sydney, Australia, and categorised into fifteen categories in line with the 2013 ADG. For unique products that were sold in multiple package sizes, the percentage difference between the minimum and the maximum serving size across different package sizes was calculated. A high variation in serving size was found within the majority of food and beverage categories - for example, among 347 non-alcoholic beverages (e.g. soft drinks), the median for serving size was 250 (interquartile range (IQR) 250, 355) ml (range 100-750 ml). Declared serving size for unique products that are available in multiple package sizes also showed high variation, particularly for chocolate-based confectionery, with median percentage difference between minimum and maximum serving size of 183 (IQR 150) %. Categories with a high proportion of products that exceeded the 600 kJ ADG standard serve included cakes and muffins, pastries and desserts (≥74 % for each). High variability in declared serving size may confound interpretation and understanding of consumers interested in standardising and controlling their portion selection. Future research is needed to assess if and how standardising declared serving size might affect consumer behaviour.


ADG Australian Dietary Guidelines; Discretionary foods; FHD Food and Health Dialogue; FTAS Fresh Tastes @ School; IQR interquartile range; Nutrition labels; Portion sizes; SSB sugar-sweetened beverages; Serving sizes

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