The effect of varying portion size or energy density over 5 days on preschool children's intake

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Smethers, Alissa
Graduate Program:
Nutritional Sciences
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
November 15, 2018
Committee Members:
  • Barbara Jean Rolls, Dissertation Advisor
  • Barbara Jean Rolls, Committee Chair
  • Kathleen Loralee Keller, Committee Member
  • Jennifer Savage Williams, Committee Member
  • Timothy Raymond Brick, Outside Member
  • Tanja Kral, Special Member
  • Preschool children
  • portion size
  • energy density
  • eating behavior
  • regulation
Preschool children are thought to be in a formative stage during which environmental cues, such as portion size and energy density, begin to override the regulation of energy intake. Only two studies, however, have measured the effect of portion size and energy density (ED) on children’s intake beyond a single meal. Research in adults suggests that 3 to 4 days is necessary in order to observe compensatory adjustments in response to excess energy intakes. Therefore, no studies have been conducted over a sufficient duration to see if young children are able to regulate energy intake in response to obesogenic food properties. For this dissertation, two studies aimed to test the effect of varying portion size (Study 1) and ED (Study 2) on preschool children’s intake over 5 days, a period likely long enough for compensatory behavior. These will lead to the development of evidence-based strategies and policy recommendations to help moderate energy intake and prevent childhood obesity.