Last updated on March 2020

Effect of Tableware Visual Cues on Portion Control and Eating Rate

Brief description of study

Randomised within subjects cross-over study (n=94) exploring the cognitive and physiological processes associated with portion control. Participants will eat a self-served lunch using a portion control plate vs. a conventional (control) plate on two separate occasions under a controlled laboratory environment. Portion size, meal micro-structure, attention, memory and satiety markers will be analysed. The portion control plate is a prototype designed in collaboration with the commercial partner for this study and is based on published evidence. It includes sectors and pictures indicating amounts to serve from starchy food, protein and vegetables. The control plate will be of the same background colour, size and shape but without any pictures or demarcations. The main study outcome is attention time on areas of interest in the plate corresponding to main foods groups, across plate conditions.

Detailed Study Description

The size and design of tableware have been proposed as a potentially effective strategy to modulate how much is eaten at a meal. The mechanisms by which specific tableware may work however are not known, in particular the cognitive processes associated with visual stimuli. In this covert trial, 68 women (34 overweight or obese) and 26 lean men (exploratory sub-study) will self-serve and consume food from a laboratory buffet using a portion control plate with visual stimuli for appropriate amounts of main food groups, or a conventional plate, on two different days in random order. On both sessions participants will complete behavioural and cognitive tests to measure visual attention during the meal (eyetracking device), meal microstructure (Universal Eating Monitor), episodic memory for portion sizes (computerised test), portion size choice, food intake, subjective appetite and satiety, cephalic and intestinal satiety responses. Further behavioural tests include meal liking, expected satiety, portion size perceptions and tool acceptance ratings. The main study outcome is difference in proportional dwell time on areas of interest in the plate corresponding to main foods groups (women), or difference in bite size (men) across conditions. Secondary outcomes for all subjects include: portion size for overall meal and meal components, eating rate, bite size, deceleration rate, portion size memory error, portion size norms, portion control self-efficacy, tool acceptance, energy compensation for the rest of the day, plus blood insulin, glucose, pancreatic polypeptide and ghrelin up to 90 min post-meal (sub-sample of 34 women, 50% being overweight/obese). Analyses by gender and BMI sub-groups will be applied when possible. The results of this study will help to better understand the potential mechanisms by which portion control tools with visual cues may work, and to improve the design of current instruments for their application in nutritional interventions.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03610776

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