Portion size selection and snack food preferences; inter-relationships between parent and child BMI

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


Increased portion size has been cited as a leading cause of childhood obesity. Parental BMI and feeding styles have also been implicated. ‘Ideal’ and ‘maximum tolerated’ portion sizes for a range of main meals were assessed in overweight and lean children (5–11 years). Preferences for low- and high-energy-dense snack foods were also measured. In addition, we collected parents' estimates of their child's (i) ideal and maximum portion sizes for the same meals and (ii) preference for snack foods. Parent and child pairs (N = 218) were recruited from an NHS randomised controlled trial (n = 69) and an interactive science centre (n = 149). Using an animated portion size task, children selected their perfect amount and the maximum amount that they could eat for dinner. They also ranked by preference 8 snack foods. Separately, parents provided estimates of their child's ideal portion sizes, maximum portion sizes and rank preferences, together with their own ideal portions. Overweight parents and children reported higher ideal portion sizes. However, overweight children did not choose higher maximum portions. Discordance between child and parent BMI predicted discrepancies on the preference task. These results suggest that overweight children choose to consume more within a meal but do not demonstrate a greater tolerance of larger portions. Parents demonstrate greater accuracy in predicting their child's preference where there is concordance between parent and child BMI. This research was funded through the NIHR-HTA programme (ref:09/127/04) and recruitment was supported by At-Bristol science centre.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAppetite
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Structured keywords

  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Nutrition and Behaviour


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