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Are you aware of ‘unconsciously upsizing’?

Ever ended up buying more food and drink than you intended? How did it happen? Our guest Heather Peace of Food Standards Scotland explains how ‘upsizing’ works.

This is a guest post by Heather Peace. All views expressed are Heather’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?. 

We’ve all been there. One minute you’re grabbing a quick little something to eat or drink, the next you’ve come away with the large version of what you wanted, or lots of extras!

‘Upsizing’ or ‘upselling’ – going large, adding a side, making it a meal or adding extras – can easily lead to us eating and drinking extra calories.

We often see these offers as good value, but there is another ‘cost’ to consider – extra calories can, of course, lead to weight gain.

An upsized you?

At Food Standards Scotland, we recently launched a healthy eating campaign encouraging people in Scotland to say ‘no’ to upsized food and drink offers.

The example below would result in an extra 1500 calories:

🍔 Upsizing from a small cheeseburger meal to a large cheeseburger meal and adding a regular side of onion rings and…

🍔 Switching from a small latte to a large, and adding a chocolate brownie

If you were to do this each week for a year you could end up 10lbs heavier!

Adding starters and sides can add a lot of extra calories. For example, a portion of nachos could add more than 800 calories, and a side of garlic bread with cheese more than 500 calories.

These offers are common in restaurants, cafes and cinemas, but saying ‘yes’ to them can risk tipping the scales into overweight and obesity. This is an additional cost you might not want to say yes to.

Time to say no to upsizing

Our consumer research shows almost three-quarters of people in Scotland agree that cheap fast food is too easily available, and two-thirds agree that restaurants, coffee shops and takeaways should not encourage upsizing.

Being more conscious of the times we are being upsold to may help us to say ‘no’ more often. It’s an easy way to avoid extra calories and, after all, there’s nothing wrong with saying ‘no thanks’.

So, it is worth thinking about how often you say ‘yes’ to upsizing. Play our ‘No To Upsizing’ game and see how well you fare at resisting offers to ‘upsize’.

This was a guest post by Heather Peace. All views expressed are Heather’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.

Have you been tempted by ‘upsizing’ offers when you’re out and about? Do you think large items and extras should be sold as specials? Let us and Food Standards Scotland know here on Which? Conversation.


I am against forced upsizing.

Some Indian and Chinese eateries include plain rice with meals and often only on some of the menu items.

You might not notice and order the rice of your choice only to find you have an extra rice you do not want – very sneaky upselling.

We usually swap the plain rice for the rice of our choice.
Good eateries just charge you the difference. Bad eateries will not let you swap but make you buy 2 portions.

An Indian restaurant in town was quite keen on upselling but me and my friends were good at resisting their efforts. When food hygiene rating fell from 5 to 3, I decided we should go elsewhere.

@foodstandardsscotland Heather – I’m more concerned about the food hygiene ratings in Scotland because there is no grading of 0-5, just Pass or Improvement required. I would like to see an incentive for businesses to do their best and for display of ratings to be mandatory, as in Wales.

No upselling at our local chippie which serves very large pieces of haddock. However, never go for “large chips”. That’ll serve about 6.

I find the seagulls will usually share some with you.

Rosemary says:
20 March 2019

Re. extras etc.,If there is a special offer, I usually keep these extras (refrigerated) to eat at a later date/ time. Don’t have to eat these all at the same time!

My gripe is set menus that mean that having three courses is cheaper than two. The thrifty (and sweet toothed) part of me always gives in.

I have started doing deals with people. We order one main course and one three course meal. The other person gets the starter and I get the pudding. Ask about the office – I’m not good at sharing pudding. 😉

Swaran Dhal says:
26 October 2019

Apart from restaurants food my gripe with small supermarkets and chain stores selling three items for price of two. I strongly object to this practice. I am deliberately not naming the names.