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While I've been trying to change up my eating habits a bit and talking to patients about trying some new foods, I came across an interesting study in the journal Pediatrics. The hypothesis for the study, conducted among school children in Philadelphia, was: "Can smaller plates promote age-appropriate portion sizes in children?"

Previous studies in the adult literature that have shown that dishware size influences self-serve portion sizes and caloric intake. Whether the same conclusions with children were valid had yet to be examined but this seemed logical.

So, the hypothesis was correct: When children were given larger bowls, plates and cups, they served themselves larger portions and, in turn, consumed more calories. In the study, 80 percent of the children served themselves more calories at lunch when using adult-size plates and bowls.

This is great news, in that by changing the size of the plate, we might be able to affect a child's portion size without them even being aware!

I remember that our kids all had children's bowls, plates and cups that they loved to use. Eventually, of course, these either broke, got lost, or we just decided to have everyone use the same plates and bowls. Perhaps it would make more sense to continue to have our children use child-sized dishware until they reach puberty!

It certainly wouldn't hurt, and if schools did the same thing we might be able to impact the obesity problem among children simply just changing one behavior. It is definitely a technique worth trying!

(Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician, medical editor and media host. "The Kid's Doctor" TV feature can be seen on more than 90 stations across the U.S. Submit questions at http://www.kidsdr.com.)