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Mindful construal diaries and the portion size effect

In this research, it was hypothesised that the use of a mindful eating-specific intervention, namely Mindful Construal Diary (MCD) would reduce the effect of portion size on calorie intake when compared to a control condition.

Portion size primary

Researchers

Research background

The prevalence of obesity has increased rapidly over the past decades, and the UK has been labelled as the most obese country in Western Europe, with data suggesting that 26.9 of the population is obese (OECD 2018). The dangers of being obese are well documented, with research showing obesity being associated with increased risks of both physical and psychological difficulties such as diabetes and depression (Ludwig, 2002; Faith, Matz, & Jorge, 2002. The increasing urgency to identify causes and enable effective solutions within the Western world is clear.

Research aims

When people are provided with a larger portion, they often consume more food (the portion size effect). Previous research using general mindfulness interventions to reduce portion size effect were found to be limiting in drawing clear conclusions. In this research, it was hypothesised that the use of a mindful eating-specific intervention, namely Mindful Construal Diary (MCD) would reduce the effect of portion size on calorie intake when compared to a control condition.

How was the research carried out?

One-hundred and seven participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions:

  • Small portion - control
  • Small portion - mindfulness
  • Large portion - control
  • Large portion - mindfulness

Each were served peanut M&Ms.

Results

Participants in the large portion – control condition consumed significantly more M&Ms than participants in the small portion – control condition. However, the MCD significantly reduced the effect of portion size on participants’ calorie intake, with results showing that there were no significant differences in calorie intake between the small portion – mindfulness condition and large portion- mindfulness condition. Results suggest mindful eating interventions propose an effective mean of facilitating adoption of healthier eating behaviours.