Quantifying consumer portion control practices. A cross-sectional study

Type Article

Journal Article


M. Spence; L. Lähteenmäki; V. Stefan; M. B. Livingstone; E. R. Gibney; M. Dean

Year of publication










The use of portion control practices has rarely been quantified. The present study aimed to: (1) explore which portion control practices are actually used by the general population and their association with cognitive restraint, demographic background and general health interest (GHI), and (2) examine how the usage of portion control practices predicts the estimated consumption of an energy dense food (i.e. pizza). Twenty-two portion control practices were rated in terms of their frequency of use from 'never' to 'very often' by a representative sample of 1012 consumers from the island of Ireland. Three factors were extracted and named: measurement-strategy scale, eating-strategy scale, and purchasing-strategy scale. The eating-strategy scale score was the highest, while the measurement-strategy scale carried the lowest frequency score. For each strategy scale score, the strongest predictor was GHI, followed by gender. Having higher GHI and being female were independently associated with more frequent portion control. Both the eating-strategy scale score and the purchasing-strategy scale score were negatively associated with pizza portion size consumption estimates. In conclusion, while this study demonstrates that the reported use of portion control practices is low, the findings provide preliminary evidence for their validity. Further studies are needed to explore how portion control practices are used in different kinds of portion size decisions and what their contribution is to the intake of food over an extended period of time.