Neural Mechanisms Underlying Children's Responses to Food Portion Size and Energy Density

2016-05-03 21:38:21 | BioPortfolio


Increased portion sizes of foods high in energy density (calories per gram of food) have been implicated in the obesity epidemic. Numerous studies show that children and adults eat more from larger portions of food than they do from smaller portions, a response known as the portion size effect. Despite the robust and consistent nature of these findings, the mechanisms underlying the portion size effect are not known. The long-term goal of this research is to identify the neural mechanisms involved in the portion size effect so that this information can be used to develop effective weight-management strategies. Differences in neural response to food cues, as demonstrated by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), can help clarify the factors that determine susceptibility to large portions. The goal of this study is to identify brain regions activated in response to portion size and energy density and relate these neural responses to laboratory eating behaviors in children.

The investigators hypothesize that high relative to low energy density food images will be associated with increased activation in regions of the brain involved in reward- and sensory- processing and that large relative to small portion size food images will be associated with increased activation in regions of the brain involved in cognitive control. In addition, the investigators hypothesize that these brain responses will influence the relationship between portion size served and energy intake at laboratory meals.


What this study will add to the literature: The response to food images that vary by portion size using fMRI has not been previously reported. Furthermore, how the brain response to food portion size and energy density is related to energy intake has not been previously reported. The goal of this study is to identify brain regions activated in response to portion size and energy density and relate these neural responses to laboratory eating behaviors in children.

Study Design

Observational Model: Cohort


Pediatric Obesity




Penn State University

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2016-05-03T21:38:21-0400

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