Large food portions, packaging and tableware need to shrink to help rein in global obesity, say experts.
The worldwide prevalence of obesity has risen substantially over the past three decades with no country yet achieving a reduction, lead author Theresa Marteau said in The BMJ article.
A review by the University of Cambridge researchers found ‘‘people consistently consume more food or non-alcoholic drinks when offered larger-sized portions or packages, or when using larger items of tableware’’.
‘‘Crucially, portion size is a modifiable determinant of dietary energy intake,’’ they said.
‘‘Indeed, a recent economic analysis ranked reduced portion size as having the highest potential to reduce the population health burden of obesity.’’
Although policy makers and the food industry have primary responsibility for action, public acceptability is likely to be an important facilitator.
‘‘The introduction of many tobacco control measures reflects the mobilisation of public support, not yet evident for obesity control,’’ the researchers said.
They came up with policy changes aimed at reducing the size, availability and appeal of large food and drink portions.
Design tableware to encourage smaller mouthfuls — shallow plates, straight-sided glasses.
Move larger portioned products from checkouts to less accessible sites in the store.
Restrict sizes shown in ads.
Design packaging for single portion sizes such as individual wrapping of biscuits.
Reduce the standard restaurant serving size, provide smaller tableware.
Restrict price promotions on larger portion and package sizes.
Eliminate the largest product sizes.
Increase availability of smaller portion and package sizes