Energy density is a relatively new concept that has been identified as an important factor in body weight control in adults and in children and adolescents. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 encourages consumption of an eating pattern low in energy density to manage body weight. This article describes the systematic evidence-based review conducted by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), with support from the US Department of Agriculture's Nutrition Evidence Library, which resulted in this recommendation. An update to the committee's review was prepared for this article. PubMed was searched for English-language publications from January 1980 to May 2011. The literature review included 17 studies (seven randomized controlled trials, one nonrandomized controlled trial, and nine cohort studies) in adults and six cohort studies in children and adolescents. Based on this evidence, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee concluded that strong and consistent evidence in adults indicates that dietary patterns relatively low in energy density improve weight loss and weight maintenance. In addition, the committee concluded that there was moderately strong evidence from methodologically rigorous longitudinal cohort studies in children and adolescents to suggest that there is a positive association between dietary energy density and increased adiposity. This review supports a relationship between energy density and body weight in adults and in children and adolescents such that consuming diets lower in energy density may be an effective strategy for managing body weight.
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