Elasticity in portion selection is predicted by severity of anorexia and food type in adolescents

M. Herzog, C.R. Douglas, H.R. Kissileff, J.M. Brunstrom, K. Halmi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


ABSTRACT The size of portions that people select is an indicator of underlying mechanisms controlling food intake. Fears of eating excessive portions drive down the sizes of portions patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) can tolerate eating significantly below those of healthy controls (HC) (Kissileff, et al., 2016). To determine whether patients with AN will also reduce the sizes of typical or ideal portions below those of controls, ANOVA was used to compare maximum tolerable, typical, and ideal portions of four foods (potatoes, rice, pizza, and M&M’s) in the same group of 24 adolescent AN patients and 10 healthy adolescent controls (HC), on which only the maximal portion data were previously reported. Typical and ideal portion sizes did not differ on any food for AN, but for HC, typical portions sizes (kcals) became larger than ideal as the energy density of the food increased, and were significant for the most energy dense food. Ideal portions of low energy dense foods were the same for AN as for in HC. There was a significant 3-way (group x food x portion type) interaction, such that HC selected larger maximum than typical portions only for pizza. We therefore proposed that individuals of certain groups, depending on the food, can be flexible in the amounts of food chosen to be eaten. We call this difference between maximum-tolerable, and typical portion sizes selected “elasticity.” Elasticity was significantly smaller for AN patients compared to HC for pizza and was significantly inversely correlated with severity of illness. This index could be useful for clinical assessment of AN patients, and those with eating problems such as in obesity and bulimia nervosa and tracking their response to treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2016

Structured keywords

  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Nutrition and Behaviour


  • Eating disorders
  • Portion size selection
  • Food intake controls
  • Perception
  • Food choice


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