Experts say that if an individual is given the opportunity to choose a smaller portion size, the individual is likely to choose the smaller size. Restaurants who give the option of downsizing their meals, would indirectly help individuals to lose weight or prevent individuals from putting on weight by allowing them to choose a smaller portion size. Janet Schwartz, PhD, professor at Tulane University and her co-authors report that more and more customers would chose smaller portions of starchy side dishes. Mentioning the calorie content of the food, or having healthier meals on the menu may not have such an effect on the customer’s choice.
In this study, the servers at a popular restaurants were told to ask the customer if he or she would like a smaller portion size. When this option was given, 14% to 33% of the customers opted for a smaller portion. One of the interesting facts reported in the study reveals that customers were less likely to choose the down-sized portions when the calorie content was presented.
When restaurants gave the option of smaller portion of side dishes, customers preferred it, and ended up paying less without gaining further weight. “The main shortcoming of the study was that the customers were asked only once about the downsizing of the dishes” says Eric Finkelstein, PhD, deputy director of the Health Services and Systems Research Program at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore. He found that posting the calorie content of the dish at certain chain restaurants did not have any impact on the food preferences of the customers. Finkelstein feels that restaurants may not ask about downsizing the food unless it is for a research purpose. He also wonders whether people will continue to downsize their portion size when they realize that they are still hungry after the meal.
Schwartz replied that only the side dish was downsized and even this portion was quiet large for the person to feel hungry later. The results of this study are published in the journal Health Affairs.
- Individuals who eat smaller portions are more likely to lose weight.