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Researchers from several universities set up a study at a Panda Express restaurant in Durham, N.C. At the Chinese food purveyor, diners were given the option of downsizing their side dishes to a smaller portion, The Street reported. The study revealed that 14 to 33 percent of customers chose the downsizing option, and did so whether or not they received a 25-cent discount for selecting the smaller portion.
The study concluded that the results show an attempt by Americans to reduce their caloric intake. "Overall, those who accepted smaller portions did not compensate by ordering more calories in their entrees, and the total calories served to them were, on average, reduced by more than 200," the researchers said of their study, which appeared in the Health Affairs journal. "We also found that accepting the downsizing offer did not change the amount of uneaten food left at the end of the meal, so the calorie savings during purchasing translated into calorie savings during consumption."
Although the research revealed many consumers have an interest in decreasing their meal portions, don't expect quick-service restaurants (QSRs) to immediately jump on the bandwagon, according to The Street.
"It's against the industry ethos of 'Would you like a slice of apple with that,'" John Gordon of Pacific Management Consulting Group, which specializes in chain restaurants, told the news outlet.
Gordon added that the results could be skewed because the survey was conducted in an upscale neighborhood. In less wealthy areas, healthy menu options don't fare as well, he said.
In addition, the news source said the recession has already brought about a reduction in food portions at QSRs, and consumers could "rebel" if food portions were any made smaller.
"Through the Great Recession, there has been a tremendous amount of portion reduction and downsizing," said Gordon."I think the wise heads in the industry think they have pushed that as far as they possibly can."