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Is portion size selection associated with expected satiation, perceived healthfulness or expected tastiness? A case study on pizza using a photograph-based computer task

Labbe, D., Rytz, A., Godinot, N., Ferrage, A., Martin, N.
Appetite 2017 v.108 pp. 311-316
case studies, computers, data collection, lunch, models, pizza, portion size, regression analysis, satiety, variance
Increasing portion sizes over the last 30 years are considered to be one of the factors underlying overconsumption. Past research on the drivers of portion selection for foods showed that larger portions are selected for foods delivering low expected satiation. However, the respective contribution of expected satiation vs. two other potential drivers of portion size selection, i.e. perceived healthfulness and expected tastiness, has never been explored. In this study, we conjointly explored the role of expected satiation, perceived healthfulness and expected tastiness when selecting portions within a range of six commercial pizzas varying in their toppings and brands. For each product, 63 pizza consumers selected a portion size that would satisfy them for lunch and scored their expected satiation, perceived healthfulness and expected tastiness. As six participants selected an entire pizza as ideal portion independently of topping or brand, their data sets were not considered in the data analyses completed on responses from 57 participants. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses showed that portion size variance was predicted by perceived healthiness and expected tastiness variables. Two sub-groups of participants with different portion size patterns across pizzas were identified through post-hoc exploratory analysis. The explanatory power of the regression model was significantly improved by adding interaction terms between sub-group and expected satiation variables and between sub-group and perceived healthfulness variables to the model. Analysis at a sub-group level showed either positive or negative association between portion size and expected satiation depending on sub-groups. For one group, portion size selection was more health-driven and for the other, more hedonic-driven. These results showed that even when considering a well-liked product category, perceived healthfulness can be an important factor influencing portion size decision.