Child food portion sizes in the home environment: how do parents decide?

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The consumption of larger portion sizes (PS) of food have been implicated in the increased prevalence of childhood obesity. The home is usually the first place children learn about food, however, little is known about how parents determine child PS in the home environment. This narrative review aimed to explore parental beliefs, decisions, strategies and barriers to the provision of appropriate food PS for children in the home environment. Results indicate that parental decisions on child food PS are based on the amounts they serve themselves, personal intuition and knowledge of child appetite. Owing to the habitual nature of food provision, parental decisions on child PS may be taken without conscious thought and/or could be part of a complex decision-making process influenced by several interlinked factors, including parental childhood mealtime experiences, other family members and child weight status. Strategies to determine child-appropriate PS include modelling the desired PS behaviour, use of unit-based food packaging and PS estimation aids, and providing the child with a degree of autonomy to rely on their own appetite cues. A lack of knowledge/awareness of PS guidance is a key barrier identified by parents to the provision of age-appropriate PS, warranting the inclusion of salient child-appropriate PS guidance within national dietary recommendations. Further home-based interventions to improve the provision of appropriate child PS are required, leveraged on parental strategies already in use, as outlined in this review.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Nutrition Society.
Issue number3
Early online date2 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 2 Feb 2023
EventConference on ‘Food and nutrition: Pathways to a sustainable future’
Postgraduate symposium
- Sheffield, United Kingdom
Duration: 12 Jul 202215 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by funding from the Ulster University’s Vice Chancellors Research

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Cambridge University Press. All rights reserved.


  • Portion size decisions
  • Children
  • Family
  • Home
  • Children, Home


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