Diners tricked into eating more if food is labeled as 'small' portion – even though the meal size is bigger
16:01 GMT, 27 September 2012
Diners eat more if food is given a 'small' label – even if the meal is actually bigger.
Researchers labelled cookies of the same size either medium or large and asked people to eat as many as they liked.
They found that the test subjects wolfed down more of the biscuits with the medium label in a surprising act of self delusion.
But they said they were small! People are tricked into eating more because the label says the portion is tiny
The scientists behind that study said that people are so easily tricked because they trust labels and do not about what they are eating.
Study author Aradhna Krishna of the University of Michigan said that the findings had huge implications as they could be applied to clothing and drinks as well.
The marketing professor said that fizzy drinks varied in size from restaurant to restaurant but that if you stick to a 'medium' you could be getting more than you wanted.
She said: 'Just because there's a different size label attached to the same actual quantity of food, people eat more.
'But also, think they've not eaten as much'.
But they said it was the healthy portion! Over the last 60 years a 'large' size has grown to six times larger than it was
Professor Krishna said that over the last 60 years a 'large' size has grown to six times larger than it was, leading to rising rates of obesity.
She said that uniform sizing would go a long way to solving the problem, although she did not want 'restrictions on freedom'.
She said: 'All I'm saying is that sizes should be made more uniform, and that will only help the consumer because you'll know what you're getting.'
Clothing retailers have for years used 'vanity sizing' to make consumers think that they are thinner than they actually are.
A size 14 dress for example could be replaced by a 12 to fool women into believing they have been on a diet.
In the US what used to be a size 8 in the 1950s has become a size 4 in the 1970s and a zero in 2006.
Manipulating the portion size can also be used for good – studies have shown that eating off a small plate makes people overestimate how much they have consumed, meaning they eat less.
Drinking beer out of a straight glass instead of a curved one makes people drink it more slowly and better guess how much they have consumed.