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

food portions

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.

For more information about the research please visit

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