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

L. Kirwan*, M.C. Walsh, L. Brennan, E.R. Gibney, C.A. Drevon, H. Daniel, J.A. Lovegrove, Y. Manios, J.A. Martinez, W.H. Saris, I. Traczyk, J.C. Mathers, M. Gibney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Web of Science)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)642–644
Number of pages3
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2016



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