Value for money or making the healthy choice: the impact of proportional pricing on consumers' portion size choices

W.M. Vermeer, E. Alting, I.H.M. Steenhuis, J.C. Seidell

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Large food portion sizes are determinants of a high caloric intake, especially if they have been made attractive through value size pricing (i.e. lower unit prices for large than for small portion sizes). The purpose of the two questionnaire studies that are reported in this article was to assess the impact of proportional pricing (i.e. removing beneficial prices for large sizes) on people's portion size choices of high caloric food and drink items. Methods: Both studies employed an experimental design with a proportional pricing condition and a value size pricing condition. Study 1 was conducted in a fast food restaurant (N = 150) and study 2 in a worksite cafeteria (N = 141). Three different food products (i.e. soft drink, chicken nuggets in study 1 and a hot meal in study 2) with corresponding prices were displayed on pictures in the questionnaire. Outcome measures were consumers' intended portion size choices. Results: No main effects of pricing were found. However, confronted with proportional pricing a trend was found for overweight fast food restaurant visitors being more likely to choose small portion sizes of chicken nuggets (OR = 4.31, P = 0.07) and less likely to choose large soft drink sizes (OR = 0.07, P = 0.04). Conclusion: Among a general public, proportional pricing did not reduce consumers' size choices. However, pricing strategies can help overweight and obese consumers selecting appropriate portion sizes of soft drink and high caloric snacks. More research in realistic settings with actual behaviour as outcome measure is required. The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-69
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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