Perceived 'healthiness' of foods can influence consumers' estimations of energy density and appropriate portion size

G. P. Faulkner, L. K. Pourshahidi, J. M.W. Wallace, M. A. Kerr, T. A. McCaffrey, M. B.E. Livingstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE:To compare portion size (PS) estimates, perceived energy density (ED) and anticipated consumption guilt (ACG) for healthier vs standard foods.METHODS:Three pairs of isoenergy dense (kJ per 100 g) foods-healthier vs standard cereals, drinks and coleslaws-were selected. For each food, subjects served an appropriate PS for themselves and estimated its ED. Subjects also rated their ACG about eating the food on a scale of 1 (not at all guilty) to 5 (very guilty).RESULTS:Subjects (n=186) estimated larger portions of the healthier coleslaw than that of the standard version, and perceived all healthier foods to be lower in ED than their standard alternatives, despite being isoenergy dense. Higher ACG was associated with the standard foods. Portion estimates were generally larger than recommendations and the ED of the foods was underestimated.CONCLUSIONS:The larger portions selected for the 'reduced fat' food in association with lower perceived ED and ACG suggests that such nutrition claims could be promoting inappropriate PS selection and consumption behaviour. Consumer education on appropriate portions is warranted to correct such misconceptions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-112
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2014


  • energy density
  • food portion size
  • food serving size
  • healthy
  • nutrition claims

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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