Larger packaging and plates make us eat more

Note: analysis based on my Behavioral Orchestration and Analysis framework explained here.


Hollands, GJ, Shemilt, I, Marteau, TM, Jebb, SA, Lewis, HB, Wei, Y, Higgins, J & Ogilvie, D 2015, ‘Portion, package or tableware size for changing selection and consumption of food, alcohol and tobacco’, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, vol. 9, viewed 24 March 2016


Meta-analysis of 72 studies that reviews how size of portions, packaging and receptacles influence the maount of food consumed, from a public health policy perspective.

Changes implemented

Choice Architecture

Contextual persuasion and copy elements

  • Priming effects: when first seeing the portion/container, the human barin already adapts  its expectations.

Choice ergonomics and usability; user experience

  • Default effects at work: the size used is the default size people will target, unless way too small or way too large. This works for portions, packaging, but also tableware.


From the review:

This review found that people consistently consume more food and drink when offered larger-sized portions, packages or tableware than when offered smaller-sized versions. This suggests that policies and practices that successfully reduce the size, availability and appeal of larger-sized portions, packages, individual units and tableware can contribute to meaningful reductions in the quantities of food (including non-alcoholic beverages) people select and consume in the immediate and short term.


Great meta-analysis. Results well-known and not surprising, but important to highlight because they make the power of defaults and priming effects very clear.