Over-eating and resulting obesity is a public health concern in the United States, and portion size is a factor that contributes to these problems (Zlatevska et al., 2014). The present research demonstrates that the granularity of labels used to describe portions also influences food consumption, independent of previously documented portion size effects. Across six studies and seven different food items, we find a robust and reliable effect of portion size granularity labels on consumption intentions and food consumption. Having people think about food using fine-grained labels leads them to decrease their consumption intentions (Study 1, n=80) and ultimately eat less food (Studies 2a, n=79, 2b, n=79). This process operates by shifting people’s perceptions of the size of foods (rather than changing levels of construal) whereby portions described with fine-grained labels (e.g. “15 gummy candies”) are perceived to be bigger than portions described with gross-grained labels (e.g. “one serving”; Study 3, n = 200). In addition, granularity facilitates self-regulation of consumption for individuals with a weight-loss goal both when self-regulation is measured (Study 4, n = 160) and when we manipulate that mediator (Study 5, n = 300). Finally, a high-powered registered report replicated effects of granularity on consumption via shifts in perception and intentions with a diverse community sample (Study 6, n = 323). Implications for theory and practice are discussed.
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