Harvard Women's Health Watch

Tracking bites and using a smaller plate helps control eating, study shows

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Researchers at Clemson University wanted to determine whether two approaches to preventing overeating—wearing a tracker designed to record numbers of bites taken and using a small plate—are effective in helping people eat less.

The researchers recruited 94 college students, 60% of whom were women. The researchers randomly assigned them into four groups. One group wore a Bite Counter—a wristband device that detects hand-to-mouth gestures and displays a bite count in real time—and were given 7-inch plates. The second group wore the Bite Counter and were given 10-inch plates. The third group was given a 7-inch plate and the fourth group, a 10-inch plate, but neither group wore Bite Counters. The students served themselves macaroni and cheese and were told to take as much as they wanted.

The first group took an average of 12 bites and consumed an average of 157 calories; the second averaged 18 bites 222 calories; the third, 19 bites and 222 calories; and the fourth, 21 bites and 245 calories. The study was published online June 23, 2016, by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

If you're trying to limit calories and think the Bite Counter may help you, it's available online for around $120. You might also want to try using a smaller plate.