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Serving Sizes

Author(s): Nancy Moreno, PhD, and Paula Cutler, BS.

What Is a Serving Size?

Food labels and other guides often use “serving size” to describe a recommended single portion of a food. Serving sizes are different for various kinds of foods (meats, fruits and vegetables, etc.), liquid and solid foods, and cooked versus raw foods. In many case, the amount specified as a serving size for a particular food is smaller than the amount typically eaten.

To help students learn to estimate appropriate serving sizes, challenge groups of students to predict appropriate servings sizes of a vegetable, snack food, cereal and liquid, and to record their predictions. Next, have students actually measure out the quantities that they predicted. You may need to explain that food portions in the US typically are measured in “cups.” Show students examples of measuring cups for liquid and solid foods.

As an extension to this activity, have students investigate the metric equivalents of cups for liquids (liters) and solids (grams).


Funded by the following grant(s)

National Space Biomedical Research Institute

National Space Biomedical Research Institute

This work was supported by National Space Biomedical Research Institute through NASA cooperative agreement NCC 9-58.