New Evidence for Portion Control in Obesity Care

A new study published today in Obesity provides good evidence that portion control can be a very simple and effective way to improve outcomes for weight management. Cheryl Rock and colleagues conducted a randomized, controlled trial of common portion-controlled, prepackaged entrées (in this study, Lean Cuisine) to enhance a typical weight management program.

Everyone in the study received the same behavioral weight loss support, but the control group selected their own foods. After 12 weeks, people who used the portion-controlled foods lost about one-third more weight. The study was conducted at the University of California at San Diego with funding from Nestlé, the makers of Lean Cuisine.

The point of this study is not that this particular brand offers magical weight loss outcomes. The real point is that the pre-portioned meals can make it simple to reduce the possibility that portion distortion will undermine efforts to lose weight. It’s a simple, readily available tool for raising the odds of success.

Of course, this is a short-term study and what really matters in obesity is long-term outcomes. But it provides a starting place for more research. And it gives people a clue that portion-controlled entrées might be a good strategy if they can make them part of an ongoing strategy for weight management.

An important detail to note is that people who were assigned to get the portion-controlled entrées were just as satisfied with the food as the people who chose their own food. Satisfaction with the food might just improve the odds of sticking with it.

Click here to read the study and here to read more about the role of portion control in weight management. Click here for more from the Obesity Society.

Portion, photograph © jev55 / flickr

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May 26, 2016