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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Methods Used by Americans to Estimate Portion Sizes of Foods and Beverages

Authors
item MONTVILLE, JANICE
item Haggerty, Etta Susanne
item Ingwersen, Linda
item Perloff, Betty
item MOSHFEGH, ALANNA

Submitted to: American Dietetic Association Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 2003
Publication Date: October 1, 2003
Citation: Bodner, J.E., Haggerty, E.S., Ingwersen, L.A., Perloff, B.P., Moshfegh, A.J. 2003. Methods used by Americans to estimate portion sizes of foods and beverages {abstract]. Journal of American Dietetics Association. 103(9 Suppl 1):A-23.

Technical Abstract: USDA survey data have shown that portion sizes for many Americans have increased since the late 1980s. At the same time there has been a sharp increase in obesity in the U.S. Dietary methods research must continue to explore how to best help people recall and describe not only what they eat and drink, but also how much. To expand the portfolio of portion size estimation methods, a two-dimensional (2D) food model booklet was developed for use with the USDA Automated Multiple-Pass Method of dietary data collection. These 2D models were used in a nationwide Pilot Study conducted by telephone with a representative sample of the U.S. population between October 1999 and February 2000. To describe amounts of food and drink, respondents could use the 2D models or use measure descriptions. Measure descriptions include traditional units (fluid ounces and weight, measuring cups and spoons, or ruler dimensions) and descriptive phrases such as brand names and relative sizes. Analysis of one-day food records for 452 adults age 20 years and over indicated that the estimation method most often used was the descriptive phrase (used for 40% of foods) which, after conversion to equivalent gram weights and nutrients, provided the highest proportion of overall energy intake (over 41%). Two-dimensional models were used for 15% of foods, which provided over 17% of overall energy. Traditional measurement units were used to report the balance of foods and energy. Because Americans use a variety of methods to estimate their portions of foods and beverages, it is important to provide many different options when assessing dietary intake. Since 2002, the estimation methods described here, including the 2D Food Model Booklet, are being used in the What We Eat in America component of the NHANES.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014