J2 Content – Perspectives

A varied collection of thoughts on education and parenting

A Most unScientific Study: Serving Sizes

An informal survey of 12 children ages 4 through 15 revealed some poor practices in terms of serving size management.

  • 10 of the 12 children believed a 20 ounce soda bottle was “one serving” (the nutrition label says a serving of soda is 8 ounces, so the bottle contains 2.5 servings)
  • 6 of the 12 children reported having gotten a 10-piece order of Chicken Nuggets from Mc Donalds and eaten the whole box by themselves.
  • Presented with three differently sized bowls of cereal, 11 of the 12 children could not identify the bowl with 1 serving according to the nutrition label on the box.
  • Presented with three differently sized glasses of orange juice, 9 of the 12 children could not identify the glass with 1 serving according to the nutrition label on the carton.
  • Presented with two 8-ounce glasses (one tall and skinny, the other short and fat) 8 of the 12 children incorrectly believed the glasses held different amounts of liquid.
  • 9 of the 12 children reported being told to eat until you “clean your plate” at least twice in the last week.
  • 4 of the 12 children did not know serving size information was on packages.
  • Asked how many pancakes consistuted “one serving” the 12 children gave answers ranging from 1 – 5, and no child mentioned the size of the pancakes as a factor in the definiton of a serving.

Nutrition labels are not the most practical when it comes to defining serving sizes, but it is clear from our study that most children (and their families) are not up to managing serving sizes on their own.

We believe retailers should revise the food labels to reflect real world servings, but that families should also be more cognizant of how far they stray from nutritional guidelines and how inconsistent their portioning is.

What are your experiences with food serving sizes, at home or dining out? Please share your thoughts below.

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