Top tips on portion size

Posted 18 September 2017

Helena Gibson-Moore, Nutrition Scientist, British Nutrition Foundation


With increasing concerns about childhood obesity, it is not only important for children to be eating healthier types of foods but also the right amounts of food. Here we provide our tips on encouraging children to eat appropriate amounts of food:

  • Scale down the portion you would give children compared to what you would serve yourself based on their size. Young children need smaller portions, whereas teenagers who are tall and active may have a similar portion to an adult.
  • Don’t push children to eat everything on their plate – let them finish when they say they are full.
  • Try not to pile children’s plates with food, if they are still hungry then you can always offer second helpings.
  • Large plates often lead to larger portions being served, so try to opt for smaller plates, especially for younger children.
  • Watch out for packaging sizes – many foods and drinks (such as crisps and sugary drinks) are packaged for adults and designed for sharing. If you do offer these foods, serve a small portion in a bowl or cup.
  • Children are easily tempted by sweet, energy dense foods, such as biscuits and cakes, and so try to keep these out of sight and out of mind.


For more information on making sure children eat the right sized portions for their age see BNF’s blog on Portion Sizes for children:

Another great resource is change4life: downloads/302468_C4L_MeSizedMealsPosterfamilyacc.pdf