Energy density of foods affects energy intake in normal-weight women

Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Mar;67(3):412-20. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/67.3.412.


This study examined the effect of energy density, independent of fat content and palatability, on food and energy intakes. With use of a within-subjects design, normal-weight women (n = 18) were provided with meals for 2 d during each of three test sessions. During lunch, dinner, and an evening snack, subjects were given free access to a main entree varying in energy density (low, medium, or high). The manipulated main entrees were similar in palatability to their counterparts across conditions. Low-energy compulsory (consumption required) side dishes accompanied each meal. Subjects also consumed a standard, compulsory breakfast. Results showed that subjects consumed a similar amount of food (by weight) across the three conditions of energy density. Thus, significantly more energy was consumed in the condition of high energy density (7532 +/- 363 kJ, or 1800 +/- 86 kcal) than in the medium- (6356 +/- 281 kJ, or 1519 +/- 67 kcal) and low- (5756 +/- 178 kJ, or 1376 +/- 43 kcal) energy-density conditions (P < 0.0001). There were no differences in hunger or fullness before meals, after meals, or over the 2 d across conditions. The results from this study indicate that energy density affects energy intake independent of macronutrient content or palatability, suggesting that the overconsumption of high-fat foods may be due to their high energy density rather than to their fat content.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Weight*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hunger
  • Middle Aged
  • Philosophy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires