Public Release: 

Scientist awarded £500,000 to address food portion sizes and obesity

University of Liverpool

Dr Eric Robinson from the University of Liverpool's Institute of Psychology, Health and Society has been awarded a Medical Research Council (MRC) grant to research the effect food portion size has on energy intake.

Global rises in obesity have been caused by increased food consumption. A key environmental factor for this is thought to be food portion sizes.

Over the last thirty years portion sizes for a wide variety of foods have increased. This is a cause for concern because people often feel obliged to eat most of the food they are served, even if a food portion size is larger than is necessary.

Key Approach

The £500,000 New Investigator Research Grant (NIRG) has been awarded to Dr Robinson and his team to assist them in developing a theoretical model which can show why portion size exerts such a strong effect on energy intake. They also aim to identify the magnitude of reductions to portion size that can be made to promote reliable long-term reductions in energy intake.

Dr Robinson's main research interests involve studying cognitive and social influences on appetitive behaviours. In particular, how environmental 'norms' can influence how much a person eats or drinks.

Prestigious Award

Dr Robinson said: "Portion size is likely to be a key driver of energy intake; the amount of energy we are served at a meal or provided in a food portion influences how much energy we consume. Because of this, targeting reductions to portion size could be a key approach to tackling the obesity epidemic."

NIRGs provide support for promising early career researchers while they are establishing themselves as world leading investigators. Only a handful of these grants are awarded by the MRC each year and Dr Robinson is one of the youngest MRC grant holders to date.

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For more information about the research please visit http://bit.ly/1Qpvfko

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