Larger portion sizes have increased in tandem with the rise in obesity. Elucidation of the cognitions of children and parents related to portion size is needed to inform the development of effective obesity prevention programs. This study examined cognitions of parents (n = 36) and their school-age children (6 to 11 years; n = 35) related to portion sizes via focus group discussions. Parents and children believed controlling portion sizes promoted health and weight control. Some parents felt controlling portions was unnecessary, particularly if kids were a healthy weight because kids can self-regulate intake. Barriers to serving appropriate portions identified by parents focused largely on kids getting enough, rather than too much, to eat. Parents also identified lack of knowledge of age-appropriate portions as a barrier. Facilitators of portion control cited by parents included purchasing pre-portioned products and using small containers to serve food. Children relied on cues from parents (e.g., amount of food parent served them) and internal hunger/satiety cues to regulate intake but found it difficult to avoid overeating highly palatable foods, at restaurants, and when others were overeating. Results suggest obesity prevention interventions should aim to improve portion sizes cognitions, barrier management, and use of facilitators, in families with school-age children.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Nutrition and Dietetics
- Focus groups