What determines real-world meal size? Evidence for meal planning

SH Fay*, D Ferriday, EC Hinton, NG Shakeshaft, PJ Rogers, JM Brunstrom

*Corresponding author for this work

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

83 Citations (Scopus)


The customary approach to the study of meal size suggests that 'events' occurring during a meal lead to its termination. Recent research, however, suggests that a number of decisions are made before eating commences that may affect meal size. The present study sought to address three key research questions around meal size: the extent to which plate-cleaning occurs; prevalence of pre-meal planning and its influence on meal size; and the effect of within-meal experiences, notably the development of satiation. To address these, a large-cohort internet-based questionnaire was developed. Results showed that plate-cleaning occurred at 91% of meals, and was planned from the outset in 92% of these cases. A significant relationship between plate-cleaning and meal planning was observed. Pre-meal plans were resistant to modification over the course of the meal: only 18% of participants reported consumption that deviated from expected. By contrast, 28% reported continuing eating beyond satiation, and 57% stated that they could have eaten more at the end of the meal. Logistic regression confirmed pre-meal planning as the most important predictor of consumption. Together, our findings demonstrate the importance of meal planning as a key determinant of meal size and energy intake. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Translated title of the contributionWhat determines real-world meal size? Evidence for meal planning
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284 - 289
Number of pages6
Issue number2
Early online date11 Jan 2011
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011

Structured keywords

  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Nutrition and Behaviour


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