Portion Control Opportunities in Children’s Diets Femke W.M. Damen, Ellen Van Kleef, Carlo Agostoni, and Eva Almiron-Roig | November 2017, Volume 71, No.11

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Challenges Ahead
In the face of challenges of an increasingly tempting food environment, the urge to get value for money when purchasing foods, and insensitivity to bodily feelings of fullness, consumers have a hard time managing their portions and food intake.

Parents in particular face difficulties in deciding about adequate portion sizes for foods perceived as “unhealthy.” On the other hand, these foods commonly represent convenient options especially when on the go, because they come pre-packaged and have low perishability (being cheap), plus are highly liked (therefore avoiding waste). A suggestion for food technologists and product developers working on portion size could be to try to make smaller portions of such products, or sell them in resealable packs, to help parents reduce their value conflicts while providing their children an adequate amount of these products, and still fulfilling the convenience demand. Another option may be to improve clarity in the package information as to how much is a recommended portion versus what comes in the pack.

Even if it is generally agreed that a variety of reasons and not just diet may explain the steady increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity throughout the global pediatric population, adjusting energy intake to what is required by age is advantageous for both preventive and therapeutic purposes. To this aim, balancing the amount of food we eat is key and this can be done by modulating environmental portion sizes or by convincing people to leave out a few spoons of food from their usual portion dishes (Hill 2003). What would be easier to follow to change how much we eat?

The content of this article is based on presentations by Ellen van Kleef, Eva Almiron-Roig, and Femke Damen as part of the symposium on portion size presented at the 4th International Conference on Nutrition and Growth held in Amsterdam on March 2–4, 2017, and sponsored by Somaretec, S.A. The views expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the sponsor.

 

Femke W.M. Damen is a PhD student, Food Quality and Design Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands (femke.brouwer-damen@wur.nl), Ellen van Kleef, PhD, is associate professor, Marketing and Consumer Behavior Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands (ellen.vankleef@wur.nl), Carlo Agostoni, MD, is professor, Dept. of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, University of Milan, Milan, Italy (carlo.agostoni@unimi.it), and Eva Almiron-Roig, PhD, RD, is investigator scientist, Center for Nutrition Research, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain (ealmiron@unav.es).

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