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Survey: Bigger Plates Mean Bigger School Meals
April 8, 2013

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It's the plate size, not what's offered, that determines how much students eat, a survey has found.

The survey, published in the journal Pediatrics, reported that first-graders who were given adult-size plates (a 16-ounce bowl and a 10.25-inch-diameter plate) ate more calories than their first-grade counterparts who were given child-size plates (an 8-ounce bowl and a 7.25-inch-diameter plate).

The students served themselves on a lunch buffet line. Fruit and vegetables were always on offer. Meat and starch offerings varied by the day.

The study found that the students who had the adult-size plates took, on average, 90 more calories of food, in the form of meats and starches than the students carrying the smaller plates. (When the food was something that a student really liked, then the average excess was even greater, at 104 calories.) The extra servings did not carry over to vegetables, however.

The researchers stressed that the results were consistent no matter how much the children weighed.

The study echoes similar studies involving adults, who ate more when they were given larger plates, and students, who ate more when they were given larger servings. (The latest study differed in that the students served themselves.)


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