‘I could eat a horse’! : meal planning determines meal size

Fay, S.H., Rogers, P.J., Ferriday, D., Shakeshaft, N.G., & Brunstrom, J.M. (2011) ‘I could eat a horse’! : meal planning determines meal size. Appetite, 57(2), p. 547.

View at publisher


Evidence that our food environment can affect meal size is often taken to indicate a failure of ‘conscious control’. By contrast, our research suggests that ‘expected satiation’ (fullness that a food is expected to confer) predicts self-selected meal size. However, the role of meal planning as a determinant of actual meal size remains unresolved, as does the extent to which meal planning is commonplace outside the laboratory. Here, we quantified meal planning and its relation to meal size in a large-cohort study. Participants (N= 764; 25.6 yrs, 78% female) completed a questionnaire containing items relating to their last meal. The majority (91%) of meals were consumed in their entirety. Furthermore, in 92% of these cases the participants decided to consume the whole meal, even before it began. A second major objective was to explore the prospect that meal plans are revised based on within-meal experience (e.g., development of satiation). Only 8% of participants reported ‘unexpected’ satiation that caused them to consume less than anticipated. Moreover, at the end of the meal 57% indicated that they were not fully satiated, and 29% continued eating beyond comfortable satiation (often to avoid wasting food). This pattern was neither moderated by BMI nor dieting status, and was observed across meal types. Together, these data indicate that meals are often planned and that planning corresponds closely with amount consumed. By contrast, we find limited evidence for within-meal modification of these plans, suggesting that ‘pre-meal cognition’ is an important determinant of meal size in humans.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

45 since deposited on 07 Nov 2011
3 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 46771
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: This research
was supported by a BBSRC-DRINC grant (ref:BB/G005443/1).
Keywords: meal planning, meal size, pre-meal cognition
DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.05.040
ISSN: 1095-8304
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NUTRITION AND DIETETICS (111100)
Divisions: Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
Copyright Statement: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Appetite. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Appetite, [57, 2, (2011)] DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.05.040
Deposited On: 07 Nov 2011 00:00
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2013 10:18

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page