Dietary energy density in the treatment of obesity: a year-long trial comparing 2 weight-loss diets

Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jun;85(6):1465-77. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/85.6.1465.


Background: Consuming foods low in energy density (kcal/g) decreases energy intake over several days, but the effectiveness of this strategy for weight loss has not been tested.

Objective: The effects on weight loss of 2 strategies for reducing the energy density of the diet were compared over 1 y.

Design: Obese women (n = 97) were randomly assigned to groups counseled either to reduce their fat intake (RF group) or to reduce their fat intake and increase their intake of water-rich foods, particularly fruit and vegetables (RF+FV group). No goals for energy or fat intake were assigned; the subjects were instructed to eat ad libitum amounts of food while following the principles of their diet.

Results: After 1 y, study completers (n = 71) in both groups had significant decreases in body weight (P < 0.0001). Subjects in the RF+FV group, however, had a significantly different pattern of weight loss (P = 0.002) than did subjects in the RF group. After 1 y, the RF+FV group lost 7.9 +/- 0.9 kg and the RF group lost 6.4 +/- 0.9 kg. Analysis of all randomly assigned subjects also showed a different pattern of weight loss between groups (P = 0.021). Diet records indicated that both groups had similar reductions in fat intake. The RF+FV group, however, had a lower dietary energy density than did the RF group (P = 0.019) as the result of consuming a greater weight of food (P = 0.025), especially fruit and vegetables (P = 0.037). The RF+FV group also reported less hunger (P = 0.003).

Conclusion: Reducing dietary energy density, particularly by combining increased fruit and vegetable intakes with decreased fat intake, is an effective strategy for managing body weight while controlling hunger.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Energy Intake*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Hunger
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Vegetables*
  • Weight Loss


  • Dietary Fats