Open Access Thesis
Food portions; Food consumption -- Social aspects; Food supply; Diet;
Overweight and obesity is a growing epidemic among adults, adolescents, and children in the United States. Since 1980, rates of obesity have doubled among adults and tripled among children, and college students are not immune to this trend. This may be due, in part, to portion sizes that exceed individuals' caloric needs. Although many studies have demonstrated that people's food consumption is highly influenced by environmental factors ( e.g., the size of a portion that is given), there has been very little theoretical work exploring the reasons for this influence. To determine if portion size would affect consumption when a facilitating social cue was given, in the following study, cue and portion size were manipulated in a college classroom setting. Contrary to previous studies and our hypothesis, findings suggest that portion size did not have an effect on consumption in any condition. Nevertheless, as supported by previous research, the results maintain the idea that a facilitative social cue can have a significant effect on the amount of food college students consume and/or self-serve no matter the size of the portion of food presented or other social variables that may have been present. However, it is still not clear whether portion size affects consumption in a natural social setting. More research examining the effects of social norms on portion size in a social setting versus a more restricted setting is suggested. A greater understanding of the reasons that underlie food consumption, specifically with respect to factors related to portions sizes, social influences, and social norms will help in designing modifications of food presentations intended to help people moderate their food consumption.
Date of Award
Specialist in Education
Department of Educational Psychology and Foundations
1 PDF file (vi, 54 pages)
©2011 Denise Eslinger
Eslinger, Denise, "Effects of environmental variables on food consumption" (2011). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 385.