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Comparison of the portion size and frequency of consumption of 156 foods across seven European countries: insights from the Food4ME study

Lookup NU author(s): Professor John Mathers



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


There are no standardised serving/portion sizes defined for foods consumed in the European Union (EU). Typical serving sizes can deviate significantly from the 100 g/100 ml labelling specification required by the EU legislation. Where the nutritional value of a portion is specified, the portion size is determined by the manufacturers. Our objective was to investigate the potential for standardising portion sizes for specific foods, thereby ensuring complementarity across countries. We compared portion size for 156 food items measured using a food frequency questionnaire across the seven countries participating in the Food4me study. The probability of consuming a food and the frequency of consumption differed across countries for 93% and 58% of the foods, respectively. However, the individual country mean portion size differed from the average across countries in only 16% of comparisons. Thus, although dietary choices vary markedly across countries, there is much less variation in portion sizes. Our results highlight the potential for standardisation of portion sizes on nutrition labels in the EU.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kirwan L, Walsh MC, Brennan L, Gibney ER, Drevon CA, Daniel H, Lovegrove JA, Manios Y, Martinez JA, Saris WHM, Traczyk I, Mathers JC, Gibney M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Year: 2016

Volume: 70

Issue: 5

Pages: 642-644

Print publication date: 01/05/2016

Online publication date: 03/02/2016

Acceptance date: 01/12/2015

Date deposited: 15/08/2016

ISSN (print): 0954-3007

ISSN (electronic): 1476-5640

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/ejcn.2015.227


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