A crinkly plate that tricks the mind into thinking it holds a lot of food could help slimmers battle the bulge, experts say.
The plate has ridges and troughs that reduce its overall surface area, thereby cutting down the amount of food that can be piled on to it.
From above, the plate of food looks the same as any other, meaning those trying to lose weight still enjoy the appearance of a full family meal.
Product designer Nauris Cinovics, from the Art Academy of Latvia, believes the plate could help people shed pounds and plans to test his theory in a trial of 100 people.
Obesity experts backed his view, saying the plate could provide a useful tool and act as an alternative to just choosing smaller plates.
Government obesity adviser Professor Susan Jebb, from the University of Oxford, said trials were needed to see if the plate worked.
She said: “It’s a neat idea. It’s more normalising (than small plates).”
Dr Paul Christiansen, from the University of Liverpool’s school of psychology, said: “This seems like a good idea. If people think they have eaten a full plate of food, they will feel more satisfied.
“Many people think you have to finish the food on the plate.
“If you can satisfy the perception that they have a nice big portion on their plate, they will think they have eaten a full meal.
“For ‘plate clearers’, if you can feed the perception that you have a reasonable amount of food, they may eat less.”
Professor Jane Ogden, professor in health psychology at the University of Surrey, said: “There is lots of evidence that we eat for other reasons other than biological need - it is about habit, it is about perception, it is about what we visually perceive.
“Anything that can manipulate any of that could well be an effective way of eating less.”
Professor Charles Spence, a behavioural psychologist at the University of Oxford who specialises in the perception of food and taste, said: “This is definitely a nice idea. There are a number of ways of tricking the eye, from use of smaller plates to make it look like there is more, through heavier bowls.
“The crinkle plate seems to provide much same impression, though I do worry how you get the bits out that fall in crevices.”
The plate, which is made of clear glass to make food look bigger, has been backed by the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia, a Government agency.
Mr Cinovics plans to test his plate and then sell it to slimmers. He has also designed a heavy cutlery range to slow down eating.
He said: “My idea is how to make food appear bigger than it is.
“If you make the plate three-dimensional, with the ridges and troughs, it actually looks like there is the same amount of food as on a normal plate, but there is less of it.
“You are tricking the brain into thinking you are eating more.”
He said the folds and dips also slow down the rate at which people eat.
Mr Cinovics’ heavy cutlery, a knife, fork and spoon weighing 1.3kg each, also helps people eat more slowly.
He said: “We tested this and it took 11 minutes to finish a meal with this cutlery, rather than seven minutes.
“Our brain takes at least 20 minutes to receive the message that we should feel full, so if we eat really fast, we think we need more food.
“If we eat slowly, the message that we’re full gets through sooner, so we eat less.”
He said separate research has shown a green tablecloth makes the ideal background to make people feel full, although he said more studies were needed in this area.
The plate idea was unveiled at the European Congress on Obesity in Porto, Portugal.