Super Size Me

We’re probably all familiar with the concept of ‘super-sizing’—those giant-sized fast food and drink options that are offered to customers at the counter once they’ve placed their meal deal order. But aside from the obvious health implications, what does super-sizing really mean?

An interesting recent study shows that consumers often associate larger options as having greater status, and that opting for that super size soft drink actually makes them feel more important .

Even more interestingly, this association of size with status can be manipulated. In an experiment conducted by researchers, participants were split into two groups: one read an article explaining that “63 percent of the 1,000 most influential Americans are fit,” and the other read an article explaining that “63 percent of the 1,000 most influential Americans are overweight”. Afterwards, both groups were asked to choose from five different sizes of treat. Those who had read the article associating influence with being overweight chose a larger size; those who read the article associating influence with fitness chose a small size.

The results suggest that people can be influenced to choose healthier options. So how can you apply this to your healthy life journey? Consider your own relationship with food, and how you think your perception of status affects how much you eat:

  • Do you say ‘yes’ to the super size option?
  • If you answered yes, why do you think this is? Do you associate a larger size with power, prestige, or importance?
  • Do you think that choosing the healthier option or the smaller size could make you feel similarly good about yourself?
  • How do you think you can learn to associate ‘regular’ sizes or servings with the positive feelings and reactions you may currently associate with large sizes or servings?
  • What healthy choices could make you feel empowered?


¹ D Dubois, D D Rucker, and A D Galinsky, “Super size me: product size as a signal of status”, Journal of Consumer Research, 2012, vol. 38, no. 6, 1047–1062.