Portion distortion

New research shows that we all cheat about what we eat. If we consider we have eaten healthily, we will later consume more of a fatty food as a reward. Size and shape is everything, and while small plates make us eat less, what we may have convinced ourselves is a small wine glass may in fact hold a quarter of a bottle. Food portions have increased by up to 60% in the last 20 years, as have those for salty snacks and sugary drinks.

The original Coca Cola bottle for the first 60 years was a miniature compared with current size variations and would be rejected today. In the same period there has been an enormous increase in low fat products, but there are more obese people than ever. All this and more comes from a study by a Paris university that has caused huge waves in the food industry.

There are tricks galore. Cutting a pizza into four slices will not satisfy us as much as cutting it into eight, a scientifically demonstrated fact. If a restaurant or eaterie offers gourmet portions and jumbo portions of the same food, the cost difference is minimal but one can be charged at double the price of the other, as the real costs and overheads do not include the food. To cut down the size of portions without customers noticing, reducing one dimension, say length, will not be noticed, but reducing the overall size will.

(Pleasure as a Substitute for Size: How Multisensory Imagery Can Make People Happier with Smaller Food Portion: read the paperhere.)