Abstract| Volume 45, ISSUE 4, SUPPLEMENT , S41, July 2013

The Syracuse Plate: Reducing BMI by Introducing Smaller Plates in Households


      When households receive a new set of small or large dishes, will they use them, and will their weight and body mass index (BMI) be affected?

      Theory, Prior Research, Rationale

      This study builds on prior research that documents the effect of dish size on BMI.

      Study Design, Setting, Participants, and Intervention

      In a sample of 217 households, 307 total participants (some households had tow participants), located in Syracuse, New York, half of the households were randomly chosen to receive a set of dishes (small salad plates, large dinner plates, bowls, glasses, and coffee cups) that were large in size and the other half received a set of dishes that was small in size.

      Outcome, Measures and Analysis

      In 8 interviews (every two weeks) over a 4 month span, field researchers collected data on participant weight, and how often they used their new dishes.


      Participants reported using their plates between 5.5 (large set) and 6.5 (small set) days per week. Difference in weights recorded in the first and final interviews show that participants who received the small plates lost an average of 2.7 pounds (p<0.05) relative to those in the large dish treatment. These participants also reduced their BMI by 0.5 points (p<0.02), compared to those in the large dish treatment.

      Conclusions and Implications

      For household nutrition gatekeepers, this study demonstrates how this simple, relatively effortless change can improve the health of household members. To health professionals, this finding introduces a cost effective method clients can employ to “mindlessly” improve health outcomes.