Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Discrepancy between implicit and explicit preferences for food portions in obesity


We investigated the implicit preference in terms of food portion in obesity using the affective priming paradigm. Primes representing different portions of fast food (small, medium and large) were used to assess participants’ readiness to respond to a positive or negative target word. A self-reported affective rating scale of food portion and a portion judgment task were administered to determine the explicit preference for food portion and portion misperception, respectively. The results of the affective priming paradigm showed an implicit preference for large food portions in the obese group. No implicit preference in terms of food portion was found in the non-obese group. The explicit preference measure of food portion demonstrated a rather negative attitude for large portions in the obese group, whereas the non-obese group reported no explicit preference in terms of food portion. Thus, unlike the non-obese group, the obese group showed clear discrepancies between implicit and explicit preferences in terms of food portion: obese participants demonstrated an implicit, but not an explicit preference for large food portions. These results could not be attributed to a misperception of food portion, as revealed by the portion judgment task. The current findings suggest that social desirability might conceal self-reported preference in terms of food portion and/or that obese individuals are less aware of their internal preferences.

Your institute does not have access to this article

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1


  1. Vermeer WM, Steenhuis IH, Poelman MP . Small, medium, large or supersize? The development and evaluation of interventions targeted at portion size. Int J Obes (Lond) 2014; 38 (Suppl 1): S13–S18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Nielsen SJ, Popkin BM . Patterns and trends in food portion sizes, 1977-1998. JAMA 2003; 289: 450–453.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Wansink B, Wansink CS . The largest Last Supper: depictions of food portions and plate size increased over the millennium. Int J Obes 2010; 34: 943–944.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Zlatevska N, Dubelaar C, Holden SS . "Sizing Up the Effect of Portion Size on Consumption: A Meta-Analytic Review". J Mark 2014; 78: 140–154.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Burger KS, Kern M, Coleman KJ . Characteristics of a self-selected portion size in Young Adults. J Am Diet Assoc 2007; 107: 611–618.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Livingstone MBE, Black AE . Markers of the validity of reported energy intake. J Nutr 2003; 133 (Suppl 3): 895S–920S.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Lichtman SW, Pisarska K, Berman ER, Pestone M, Dowling H, Offenbacher E et al. Discrepancy between self-reported and actual caloric intake and exercise in obese subjects. New Engl J Med 1992; 327: 1893–1898.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Brunstrom JM, Rogers PJ, Pothos EM, Calitri R, Tapper K . Estimating everyday portion size using a ‘method of constant stimuli’: in a student sample, portion size is predicted by gender, dietary behaviour, and hunger, but not BMI. Appetite 2008; 51: 296–301.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Chandon P, Wansink B . Is obesity caused by calorie underestimation? A psychophysical model of mealsize estimation. J Marketing Res 2007; 44: 84–99.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Macdiarmid J, Blundell J . Assessing dietary intake: Who, what and why of under-reporting. Nutr Res Rev 1998; 11: 231–253.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Fazio RH, Towles-Schwen T The MODE model of attitude-behavior processes In Chaiken S, Trope Y (eds), Dual Process Theories in Social Psychology. Guilford: New York, USA 1999, pp 97–116.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Schneider W, Eschman A, Zuccolotto A . E-prime User’s Guide. Psychology Software Tools Inc: Pittsburgh, 2002.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Cserjesi R, Vermeulen N, Luminet O, Marechal C, Nef F, Simon Y et al. Explicit vs Implicit body image evaluation in restrictive anorexia nervosa. Psychiatry Res 2010; 175: 148–153.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


This study was supported by Bolyai János Research Fellowship of the Hungarian Academic of Science.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to R Cserjesi.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


Appendix 1

Affective priming task’s primes of small, medium and big portions of a typical fast food

Small portion

Medium portion

Big portion

Appendix 2

Appendix 2  Affective priming task’s target words in English and Dutch

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Cserjesi, R., De Vos, I. & Deroost, N. Discrepancy between implicit and explicit preferences for food portions in obesity. Int J Obes 40, 1464–1467 (2016).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links