A new study suggests that smaller bowls could be an easy way to help children eat less, and therefore weigh less.
Announced last week, the U.S. study involved 69 preschool children who ate cereal and milk from 8- and 16-ounce bowls until they'd had their fill. Children who ate from the larger bowls asked for 87 percent more cereal and milk, the findings showed.
"The quickest way parents can help kids eat less might be to grab them a smaller bowl," said Brian Wansink, professor of behavioral economics at Cornell University and the lead author.
In a second study, involving 18 elementary school children, researchers used secret scales embedded within the tables to weigh each cereal portion before and after the kids ate to measure exactly how much they consumed. The kids with larger bowls requested 69 percent more cereal and milk and also ate 52 percent more.
"Bigger bowls cause kids to request nearly twice as much food, leading to increased intake as well as higher food waste," said coauthor Koert Van Ittersum of University of Groningen. "Based on these findings, using smaller dishware for children may be a simple solution for caregivers who are concerned about their kids' caloric intake."
The study was published
recently in the Journal of Pediatrics
Previous research published in the Journal of Consumer Research last year supports the theory for adults too, finding that subjects who dined from smaller plates and bowls ate less. Another study published in the same journal found that people who use bigger forks also tend to eat less.